For our last stop, we headed to the western side of Ikebukuro Station. There are walkways through the Ikebukuro Station building that will take you between its eastern and western sides, but it’s more fun to take the colorful underground WEROAD.
This walkway was built in 1925, so it’s nearly 100 years old. In 2019, artist Shiho Ueda took charge of fully renovating it. The celling is painted in pastel colors for the entire 77-meter length of the walkway, and the murals extend down to the walls as well.
Ueda asked local residents to tell her about their favorite memories and stories associated with the WEROAD. She got ideas from them, and then layered on the bright colors.
BiBi: The underground walkways in Europe are almost all dirty, scary places covered in graffiti, but this feels safe enough that I could walk through it alone and not worry. The bright colors and the fact that it is connected to the memories and history of the locals makes it really unique.
Karl: Being in this narrow, colorful space makes me feel like I’m in a womb. It feels like you’re being wrapped up in all the pretty colors.
After passing through the WEROAD, the two arrive at the western part of the station. They glance over at the major renovation construction going on at Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park as they keep walking. Soon, their last stop of the day comes into view: HANABAR.
Nana Yui is a dried flower artist who is married to the owner, Daiki Yui—and she’s filled the interior with lovely dried flower arrangements to create a cozy space filled with pleasant aromas.
The bar is frequented by everyone from local students and residents to foreigners. That’s one reason you can see thousands of posts if you search for #hanabar in Instagram.
There are flower petals incorporated in both the food and drink items, which gives them a fleeting beauty that makes it impossible to put the camera away.
BiBi: The smell in here is so lovely, and the space feels as comfortable as being in my own home. The cocktails are sweet, easy-drinking, and scattered with flowers. It’s such a treat to be here.
Karl: The interior has a European feel, but the cozy comfort of the space is all Japanese. Unlike most Japanese bars, it doesn’t allow smoking, which is wonderful because you can focus on enjoying the smell of the flowers and the taste of the cocktails.