Ikebukuro is a neighbourhood in Tokyo famous for a lot of things, not the least of which being that it's an anime lover's paradise. From one of the biggest Animate stores in the world to more second-hand goods shops than you can count on one hand, to the famous maid and butler cafes, Ikebukuro is definitely a hang-out for otaku. And that's both foreign and Japanese fans! Ikebukuro is especially popular amongst fans of yaoi and other boys' love and labels itself as the centre of "maiden culture" in Tokyo. The famous "otome road" is full of goods and doujinshi (fan-made comics) to make BL fans' dreams come true. But of course, Ikebukuro has plenty for all anime fans!
So it makes sense that at the heart of one of Tokyo's biggest anime neighbourhoods, there is a massive cosplay store and photo studio that is the centre of a cosplay event held nearly every month! ACOSTA is a chance for cosplayers to hang out around Ikebukuro, taking photos in a variety of stores and restaurants they otherwise wouldn't have access to, as well as making use of a great urban setting for photographs outside. Plus it's awesome for making friends and networking with other cosplayers and photographers! While ACOSTA's success in the last year means it now also has events in Osaka, Kyoto, and more, Ikebukuro remains the biggest and most common venue for the event.
ACOSTA Cosplay Event Ikebukuro Info
|Cost of Admission|
|Where to Buy Tickets|
|Hours of Operation|
Getting to the ACOSTA event in Ikebukuro is easy. It's about a 10 to 15-minute walk from JR Ikebukuro Station East Exit to the cosplay changing area and centre of the event, or about a five-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Higashi-Ikebukuro Station. Just follow the people with large shoulder bags, rolling suitcases, and ita bags (personal bags covered with anime merchandise) and you'll probably be headed in the right direction. When you start seeing lots of cosplayers in the streets you know you've arrived in the right place! Then it's just a short queue inside ACOS Ikebukuro (the Animate cosplay store) to change, and it's time to start having fun.
ACOSTA has a very welcoming atmosphere that you can feel as soon as you come to the event. Everyone is clearly having fun with their friends taking photos, eating snacks, and hanging out together in Ikebukuro. Just arriving in the Sunshine City area even before you change, you're hit with all the bright colours from so many different cosplays and wigs as people are wandering around together, and are absolutely everywhere! And once you change into cosplay too that's when the real fun can begin - now you're one of them, too!
The main gathering place is the steps outside of Sunshine City across the street from Animate, and the large terrace at the top of them. People are everywhere taking pictures in this area, but it's not so crowded that it's uncomfortable. The terrace is really large, too, and surrounded with greenery as well as urban skyline, so you can take advantage of both for shots! Directly adjacent to this area is Higashi-Ikebukuro Central Park. All you have to do is show your participation sticker for ACOSTA and you can hang out in the park, too. There are plenty of trees as well as cool rock formations to help create backdrops that are less like they're in a city.
Of course, all of East Ikebukuro is up for grabs, though! You will find cosplayers all over the area visiting the businesses, game centres, and restaurants that welcome ACOSTA participants. From Sunshine Street to Naka-Ikebukuro Park and all the way down otome road there are cosplayers everywhere you look. And everyone is relaxed, just having fun with their friends and making new ones, enjoying a day out in cosplay.
Like most cosplay events in Japan, ACOSTA follows the societal rule that wearing cosplay out and about and bothering other people is very frowned upon. That means the event expects you to change into and out of your cosplay at their provided changing areas, and that conveniently also is you pay the cosplay fee and are able to store your luggage. If you haven't experienced changing in one of these cosplay zones before, we suggest practising putting on your cosplay, makeup, and wig while sitting just next to your suitcase at home so you are ready to do it in a limited space on the day! The cosplay changing area is located in the Animate Cosplay store where the cosplay photo studio and Animate Cafe are, just across from Sunshine City on the otome road. If you are a cosplay photographer, you must also stop by here to pay your fee and pick up your entry sticker!
ACOSTA had a great deal a lot of businesses and venues in Ikebukuro so that as long as you display your participating sticker, you can enter many different places. These include the game centres, where you can have a lot of fun taking cosplay purikura (Japanese photo booths), and even a discount on entry to places like the Sunshine City Aquarium! Because it is usually frowned upon to cosplay in public, and most businesses won't allow cosplayers access or pictures on usual days, it's a great opportunity to get some great pictures done without having to pay to go to a cosplay photo studio.
Plus if you cosplay from anime like Durarara!! which takes place right in Ikebukuro, you can take the most enviable and realistic pictures possible with landmark settings behind you! ACOSTA may not have a big cosplay competition or a stage for doing a show like a lot of big cosplay events, but it has other things going for it. And these things are what make this event unique and special. Plus it continues to grow every time it's held, so who knows what the future will hold for this event!
No matter what cosplay you want to bring, though, ACOSTA has space for you. We saw everything from major currently airing anime to classics like Evangelion, and even some Western cosplay including Disney, Star Wars, and Assassin’s Creed! While many cosplay events in Japan mostly cater to new or very iconic anime only, ACOSTA had a lot of variety with people wearing new, old, and everything in between. Video games, movies, anime – whatever you want to cosplay from, there’s space for you here. As usual for cosplay events in Japan, most of the cosplayers were female, but there were a handful of men as well. Most cosplayers were Japanese, but there were a small number of foreigners enjoying the event, too. Basically, ACOSTA is an event for everyone! So don’t think that just because it’s taking place in Ikebukuro, you have to cosplay from an anime with a female demographic like most of the goods stores in the area cater to. You can cosplay whatever your favourite is!
Whether you're a cosplayer, photographer, or even just a fan, ACOSTA is a really fun event to attend. It has a casual atmosphere that is not intimidating in the least, making it easy for even beginners to have a great time. Of course, if you're going to cosplay and make use of the provided changing area and have special access to shops, you need to pay the aforementioned fee (photographers as well, don't forget!). But if you're curious to just see what it's like to cosplay or go searching for your favourite character, the event is free and easy to attend if you just head to the Sunshine City area of Ikebukuro. It makes ACOSTA approachable and enjoyable especially for casual, but even hard-core cosplay fans, because it can be as intense as you want to make it!
Of course, it goes without saying that if you are planning to attend this event, be sure to do your research first. As with any cosplay event in any country, there are rules that must be followed. And because this event is in a public space, be aware of respecting those around you. Not everyone you come across will be someone attending the event after all; some people will just be normal people going about their business. Always act with good manners and a conscious mind that are you representing the cosplay and otaku community, so do it with pride – but also do it with respect. The event has been well-received in Ikebukuro by the public and local businesses so far, so let’s keep its good reputation!
Have you been to the ACOSTA event before? What was your experience? Would you like to attend sometime? What cosplay would be your dream one to wear in Ikebukuro? Are there any other anime hot spots you would like more information about? We always love to see all your comments below!