Souvenir Hunt in Ikebukuro’s Tobu Department Store: Sweets and Desserts that are Both Tasty and Fancy!
Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo’s three main areas and boasts the second-busiest station in the entire world. Located in the northwest of Tokyo, both locals and commuters love the town filled with shopping opportunities, gourmet experiences, and entertainment options of all kinds!
Among them is Tobu Department Store, a massive shopping complex directly connected to Ikebukuro Station. With its convenient access, the department store offers all sorts of only-in-Japan goods and products, especially when it comes to souvenirs. Let’s take a look at all the tasty sweet things and desserts Tobu Department Store has to offer, to surprise loved ones at home who have a particularly sweet tooth or to just treat yourself!
The All-New Food Space: Explore the Gourmet Delights of the Renewed Basement Floor!
Department stores in Japan are known for their gourmet-tasic basement floors, where desserts and specialties can be enjoyed and purchased plentifully. Tobu Department Store is no exception to this tasty custom. Under the theme of “Choose freely, enjoy freely,” its basement floor was partially renewed to now feature a bakery area, a sweets area, a liquor area, and a deli area. With two cafes, five eat-ins, and 27 shops in total, Tobu Department Store’s gourmet basement floor will tickle your taste buds with all sorts of treats!
Especially the areas of Deli Market and Liquor Market feature a lot of newly opened stores, some of them making their debut in Ikebukuro or open their business within a department store for the first time, so make sure to check out the entire floor!
Gateau Festa Harada’s Gouter de Roi: Rich Chocolate, Superb Cacao
Gateau Festa Harada is a long-established Japanese bakery brand that was founded as early as 1901. After focusing exclusively on Japanese sweets and confectionery, the brand expanded to bread and Western desserts in 1946 – with great success. Ever since then, their most famous creation is the Gouter de Roi. This little treat is made from fluffy, delightfully buttery French bread, usually with a sugar crust, and is often called rusk in English. To this day, it attracts long queues of people seeking to buy it as a gift or to get a taste of the famed treat for themselves.
By the way: the name of the treat comes from the French word “goûter,” describing a light snack usually enjoyed in the late afternoon. Thus, “Gouter de Roi” can be translated to “royal teatime snack.”
Instead of the classic varieties, however, we want to recommend the shop’s brand-new Gouter de Roi “Noir,” a delicious piece of rusk covered in the brand’s own milk chocolate. Cocoa powder is carefully blended into the coating, giving it a subtle, bitter finish that lingers pleasantly on the tongue.
The delightful mix of cacao’s gentle bitterness and the sweetness of the milk chocolate makes for an outstanding dessert sensation. It is the perfect mix for everyone who doesn’t like their snacks too sweet, but also aren’t huge fans of dark, bitter chocolate. Gouter de Roi “Noir” was just released in October 2017 and is scheduled to be on sale until April 2018 – only in the Kanto region. If you’re looking for a unique yet elegant sweets surprise, this is the one to go with!
Apart from the limited “Noir” edition, Tobu Department Store’s Gateau Festa Harada shop also has all the classics in store. Among the most popular is the “White Chocolate” version of Gouter de Roi. Don’t hesitate to buy some for yourself!
B-Studio’s Baumkuchen mini: a Classic German Cake Meets Ikebukuro’s Characteristic Owl
B-Studio is a bakery that specializes in Baumkuchen, a tasty German spit cake that is immensely popular in Japan. This specialty shop has its headquarters in Shiga Prefecture and belongs to the famous Japanese confectioner Taneya – even more famous might be said Baumkuchen. With its wonderfully fluffy, moist texture, B-Studio’s Baumkuchen is a favorite of many shoppers, but the shop offers a great selection of all sorts of original pastries and cakes.
Let’s stick to Baumkuchen for now, though. The biggest characteristic of B-Studio’s shop in the Tobu Department Store is its “shop in factory,” meaning that the spit cakes are actually produced right there. You can even watch the massive cakes as they are taken off the log-like bars – this is as fresh as it can get!
B-Studio’s adorable mini-sized Baumkuchen are just as moist and tasty as their big brothers, but can fit in your palm! This whimsical owl packaging is only available at Tobu Department Store in Ikebukuro, as the owl is the area’s own mascot animal. Smaller and a lot cuter than the regular cakes and their packaging, this limited edition makes for a unique and incredibly tasty souvenir!
Mon Loire’s Leaf Memory: Nature from its Sweetest Side
Mon Loire is a luxury chocolate specialty shop based in Kobe. This shop and its amazingly delicious creations have been loved by chocolate and sweets fans in Kobe for more than twenty years and recently, Mon Loire has expanded their business to Tokyo and Fukuoka. Tokyoites rejoice, finally being able to get their hands on Mon Loire’s famous desserts!
“Leaf Memory” might be Mon Loire’s most famous product. Beautifully wrapped to resemble tiny purses, the filigree chocolate leaves are tiny bites of cocoa heaven. The best choice is the gift box with 15 little bags, including three unique flavors that’ll melt on your tongue. It’s a perfect gift for friends, family, or to share at your workplace!
Karakara Senbei: The Sweet Cracker with a Very Japanese Surprise!
The next stop on our Ikebukuro sweet souvenir tour is a shop called Zenkoku Meikasen and offers famous snacks and confectionaries from all around the country. Starting with local, traditional sweets from faraway prefectures, you can indulge in a large variety of tasty treats here, including the extremely famous chocolate cake from Ken’s Café Tokyo. In theory, you could taste your way through all of Japan without ever having to leave Ikebukuro!
Among this huge selection is a special recommendation: the “karakara senbei,” or clatter-clatter rice cracker. Why does it clatter, you may ask? This traditional snack comes with a surprise hidden inside, much like the West’s much-loved Kinder Surprise (sorry, Americans!). The cracker is woven into a delicate triangle shape before being baked and the toy inside is wrapped in Japanese paper. Most of the tiny goodies inside also evoke a distinctively Japanese spirit, from traditional dolls and toys to adorably fat cats.
If you shake this yummy cracker, it’ll make quite a clattering sound, hence the name “karakara.” It makes for a fun gift that conveys Japan’s humorous side and is sure to surprise both friends and family with an unexpected little extra – don’t tell them beforehand!
The Perfect Souvenir: Personal, Unique, and Fun!
From the elegant Gouter de Roi to the playful and adorable Karakara Senbei, we hope that our little list of unique souvenir ideas will help you find the right choice for your loved ones at home. Even if you just want to treat yourself to a bit of luxurious chocolate or indulge in the nostalgic feeling of plucking a tiny toy from candy, a visit to Tobu Department Store’s basement floor in Ikebukuro will surely not be a disappointing one! We’re excited to see which unique, only-in-Japan gem you’ll find!
Tobu Department Store Ikebukuro東武百貨店 池袋店
- Address 1-1-25, Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 171-8512
Ikebukuro Station （JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Saikyo Line / Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line / Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line / Seibu Ikebukuro Line / Tobu Tojo Line）
- Phone Number 03-3981-2211
Opening Hours: 10:00 - 20:00 (B2F-3F、6F)、10:00 - 21:00 (9F・10F, excluding national holidays and Sundays)
Closed: Irregular holidays
Spots showcased in the article
- Tobu Department Store Ikebukuro
- 東武百貨店 池袋店
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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.