One of my favorite side trips on this working vacation was a visit to Ikebukuro to take in two of its most notable attractions: cats and BL. Sounds like a piece of heaven for most fujoshi, I know. The neighborhood has become so synonymous with the infamous Otome Road that many signboards along its expansive underground passages and walkways proudly advertise BL manga, anime, and games. It could be a bit disconcerting when you are so used to hiding your hobby, but then this is Ikebukuro so what the hell, right?
Located on the top floor of Tokyu Hands Ikebukuro next to the pet section is Nekobukuro — a cat cafe that has been in operation for the past 10 years. The term cat cafe is applied a bit loosely to Nekobukuro — you don’t go there to have snacks, you go there to feed the cats snacks 😀 It is a wonderfully relaxing experience as the cats are very engaging and have sweet tempers — my favorite is this bright-eyed little Russian Blue who would beg and beg and beg for treats ❤ I would definitely fork over another JPY 600 to visit these little sweethearts again.
Across the street past the ominous looking overhead highway is Otome Road, a two to three block cluster of doujinshi, manga, and anime goods stores for the female persuasion. There is even a second-hand store — excuse me, an adoption agency for BJD and BJD accessories. Alas, much like their tentacly brethren, photos are not allowed inside the stores. However, all is not lost as I spent a large chunk of my pocket money in this black hole of a neighborhood — stuff make better souvenirs than photos after all 😀 I carted away a fairly impressive stack of Macross Frontier doujinshi, and enough BL manga volumes to make my parents wince (or not) 😀
The only downside with this entire excursion is that most establishments in Ikebukuro besides the arcades, cinemas, and restaurants close early. Nekobukuro closes at eight on the dot, while Mandarake and K-books close at half past eight — way too early, if you ask me. Still, I had a great time in one of my shortest stops in Ikebukuro ever, and this definitely warrants another trip or two or four.