Where can one go to see people dressed in giant cat costumes, eat overpriced gyoza and curry or coal-flavored ice cream, and fight crowds of overexcited children—paying about $5 each for the privilege of doing so? Namco NAMJATOWN in Sunshine City, that’s where!
Intrigued by the articles I’d read of their unusually flavored ice cream—like whale, squid, or snake—I decided we needed to check out this place in our last few days in Tokyo. Plus who doesn’t like a goofy, old-timey amusement center? I know we do! Remember our trip to Yomiuriland in February?
We took the train to Ikebukuro and followed the signs to Sunshine City. I wish we had had lots of times to explore this area because there were lots of shopping and restaurants here and it looked like it could be a fun way to spend an afternoon. But we had ice cream to eat, so we followed the dubious Google Maps looking for NAMJATOWN.
Tokyu Hands is on the right side of the Sunshine City Street. There is an escalator right past the store’s entrance and by taking it down and then following the signs to the Sunshine 60 building, it will take you into the mall of Sunshine City where NAMJATOWN is. Unfortunately, we did not realize that until we were leaving NAMJATOWN and, instead, followed Google Maps in a very roundabout and exhausting route down streets and around the entire Sunshine City Mall before we finally managed to find an information desk to inquire about the whereabouts of NAMJATOWN. For some reason it was very hard for us to find it. The entrance to NAMJATOWN is on the 2nd floor of the Sunshine City Mall and it turns out everything NAMJATOWN has to offer—including gyoza and weird-flavored ice cream—is on that one floor (I’d read articles that made this fact confusing to me).
We bought a simple adult entrance fee and by showing our passport, got tickets for two for 900yen (or about $9). The regular adult price is 500yen each. Then we entered the craziness, armed with only our English NAMJATOWN Guide into the cacophony of over-sugared, over-stimulated children, and many assorted video game noises of all kinds going off all at once.
Most of NAMJATOWN is for little kids and most of it is in Japanese so we wandered around, taking pictures of the weird bits of Japanese knick-knacks and statues they have scattered around for décor, and looking for the food.
The Gyoza Stadium area is to the right of the main entrance. There are a series of restaurants located here selling all kinds of dumplings, fried chicken bits, noodle soups, and other Japanese delicacies, along with drinks and beer. We ordered some things and then took our baskets of food to find a table down one of the side corridors.Turns out, $25 does not buy much.
We finished eating pretty quickly and were ready for dessert; so after locating the Ice Shop on the map (area #5), we headed over to peruse the list of weird-flavored ice creams of the day. They offer a special of six flavors for under $4, so The Professor and I both decided to do that so we could taste more of the flavors. Thankfully, we only had one overlap in choices so we were able to try 11 different flavors.
While there was no snake or whale available—and therefore no personal demons to be battled—it was still a tough choice for me to narrow it down to 6 flavors. I was really intrigued by the Haddock sherbet, corn, crab, and kelp choices, but abiding by my Norwegian ancestral desires, I finally chose the Salt of Okhotsk, Hokkaido Potato, and Double Cheese. Then to broaden my horizons I added the Indian Curry, Coal, and ‘The Wasabi’. The Professor chose: Miso, Beef Tongue, Eel (or Eal according to the list), Whiskey, ‘The Wasabi’, and a Japanese Plum sherbet.
I loved all of mine except for the coal, because it only tasted like vanilla. I didn’t try the plum sherbet, but of The Professor’s other choices, I liked the Miso, the eel, and, of course, ‘The Wasabi’.
With confused taste buds and a full tummy, we sauntered back into the noise of children and video games. After looking at the choices, we decided against spending any more money on the games—though some descriptions in the brochure made me laugh. For instance, the Hell’s Restroom description sounded like a normal day in any New York City Restroom.
After a quick stop for a pic with the giant cat people who are the mascots of the place, we left NAMJATOWN and headed back out into the hot, humid city and home.