Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 28 MAR 2021
Indoor theme parks
The Yamanote circle line takes us conveniently round to Ikebukuro Station. We are on our way to the massive building complex, Sunshine City, where J-World Tokyo can be found (unfortunately no longer, since it has been permanently closed FEB 2019). We have understood that the huge complex, in addition to J-World Tokyo, a plethora of shops and other commercial activities, features an aquarium, a theatre, an observatory and a museum as well.
The indoor theme park appears to be absolutely unique within theme related attractions in the anime category. It is relatively new in Tokyo and has seemingly gained enormous popularity right from the beginning. The more we have read about it, the more curious we have become to experience this bizarre, yet alluring place.
Where to stay in Tokyo? HOTEL HILLARYS Akasaka at the Imperial Palace, with a public hot bath, the square hotel GINZA in Ginza, with a public hot bath, Hotel Gracery Asakusa top location near the Sensoji Temple.
Even if we have spotted Sunshine City on a map, it is not obvious how to get there on foot.
At a tourist information near Ikebukuro Station we pop in to ask for directions how to get to J-World Tokyo. We get a map, but it unfortunately completely lacks the necessary details to be of any use.
After zigzagging through the pedestrian zone, we finally find ourselves in front of a building, which, to the best of our knowledge, must be one of the points of entering the vast commercial complex Sunshine City.
Following the crowds through a long passage and one floor up, we are again challenged. All signage is in Japanese and so is the brochure we got at the tourist information. However, a large add displaying an anime universe points us in the right direction, revealing just one single number among a whole lot of Japanese characters. Our best guess is that this is the floor where to find J-World Tokyo.
We pay the modest entrance fee and enter the magical world.
It is indeed surreal to be here – everything is anime and manga. Attractions, images, decorations, sounds … When looking around we realise that we are probably the only non-Japanese visitors.
What we find really fascinating is the passion and enthusiasm among all the Japanese visitors. They seem to be crazily dedicated to their favourite anime characters, and cheer when they realise that they can get their photo taken with one of the live characters walking around!
Many of the rides are based on games. We have to admit that our poor Japanese skills, as well as our western mindsets and points of reference are not sufficient to even just to understand the basic rules. Nevertheless, the rides and activities definitely seem to be both funny and challenging to the other visitors.
It seems that the indoor theme park is divided into a number of sections, each dedicated to specific anime characters like Naruto, One Piece and Dragon Ball, as well as other characters more unknown to foreign visitors like us!
” You must try Naruto’s favourite ramen in J-World Tokyo.”
Undoubtedly, one of the more interesting parts of the site is the J-World Kitchen! People appear to be pretty ecstatic about the food relating to the anime universe. We all order Naruto’s favourite meal which is a famed ramen! It seems to be very popular here!
Was it already difficult to get from Ikebukuro Station to Sunshine City, enter the building and find J-World Tokyo, it turns out to be even more challenging to find our way out again to the right street exit!
Tokyo One Piece Tower is another theme park dedicated to the anime characters from One Piece (unfortunately no longer, since it has been permanently closed JUL 2020). It is located at the bottom of Tokyo Tower, so it is easy to combine a visit to the two attractions. You can even climb the stairs to the top of Tokyo Tower if you have the energy! We refrain from doing that and concentrate on the anime world instead.
We are lucky to come on a day without too many visitors. This means that the employee takes her time to explain a few rules to us before we are off into the One Piece fantasy world.
” Even newbies get to know Luffy in Tokyo One Piece Tower.”
One of the weirder things, we are exposed to, seems to be one of the favourite activities among most of the Japanese visitors.
We are equipped with a kind of talking toy creature (in Japanese!) which will take us to a number of challenges on site. One among us has very basic Japanese skills, and, surprisingly, we are actually able to both locate and even solve some of the weird challenges!
The decorations are pretty amazing, and a self-guided tour introduces us to the One Piece characters and quirky settings. Among other places we physically enter a kitchen with a giant boar lying on the kitchen table! Not for the faint-hearted!
During the next couple of hours we integrate into Luffy’s sphere (and all the other characters’). It is an interesting and funny universe, and it is absolutely fascinating to see the euphoria and joy – of both children and adults. The anime world is a significant side of Japan – whether you are a One Piece fan or not. If we might have doubted, we are definitely not in doubt when leaving: One Piece is really BIG in Japan!
Tokyo One Piece Tower opened in March 2015. Being a huge indoor amusement park inspired by the manga and anime series One Piece, it is a visit to the fictional universe of pirates, soldiers, rebels and others with supernatural or superhuman, impressive abilities.
Over 300 million copies of the popular One Piece manga books have reached the bookshelves and the fans throughout the years. The Tokyo One Piece Tower is the newest approach to give insight into the captivating world and let the fans meet and identify with the characters. Experience the Straw Hat Crew at Tongari Port, Luffy and Chopper, Zoro the swordsman, Usopp the sniper, Sanji the cook and Nami the navigator. It is a sheer paradise for otakus (fans).
The theme park is conveniently located at the base of Tokyo Tower. It features theme based restaurants and cafés, shops with merchandise and live shows in addition to the intriguing attractions and the whole lot of games you can indulge in. Tokyo One Piece Tower is a favoured place among the Japanese visitors and you can easily spend half a day there.
Hotel in the Ginza / Chuo district conveniently located in a lively neighbourhood. The hotel features a unique design and a restaurant / café on site – and a common hot bath. It is close to the Antique Mall Ginza and the Wakayama Art Museum.
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Budget-friendly hotel / ryokan in the quiet neighbourhood Bunkyo near Ueno Station. The hotel features Japanese style rooms with tatami floors, futons and low chairs. The scoop is the ofuro / onsen section which has both indoor and outdoor hot baths. The hotel offers a Japanese (and Western) breakfast buffet.
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