Translated by Lester Somera
Ikebukuro's PARCO, The Forefront of Food and Fashion
Written by Keisuke Yamada
For visitors to the popular Ikebukuro area, the department store PARCO carries all the latest Japanese fashions.
Ikebukuro is very popular with visitors to Japan. Recently, tourists doing typical Japanese things such as lining up for ramen and playing arcade games on Sunshine Street has become a common sight in the area.
Within Ikebukuro, there is a building that houses cutting edge Japanese fashion. We would like to introduce you to PARCO.
Related article: What is PARCO?
What is Ikebukuro PARCO?
PARCO in Ikebukuro is the main location of the PARCO department chain, and was the first PARCO to begin operations in Japan. Situated just one minute from the east exit of Ikebukuro station in an exceptionally convenient location, it is a favorite for both male and female fashion shoppers.
Let's take a closer look at what stores await you in PARCO. We have specially highlighted a few which we recommend for foreign travelers.
1. Onitsuka Tiger
The athletic shoe brand Onitsuka Tiger was founded in 1949 by Kihachiro Onitsuka. Since its inception, Onitsuka Tiger made all sorts of footwear from basketball shoes to running shoes, and achieved enough growth to become the footwear sponsor of the Japanese Olympic teams.
Many medal-winning Olympic athletes wear Onitsuka Tiger shoes. It has become a brand recognized not just domestically, but also internationally.
However, the brand underwent a name change to "Asics," and in 1977 the Onitsuka Tiger brand faded away. 25 years later, the CEO of that time decided to revive it, and Onitsuka Tiger made its comeback into the market.
Onitsuka Tiger's Ikebukuro PARCO branch is on the 2nd floor. While the store's main focus is shoes, it also sells apparel, accessories such as bags, and products designed in collaboration with other brands.
We highly recommend NIPPON MADE, a collection designed around the concept of "true Japan".
Handcrafted by craftsmen, the shoes use high-quality vintage leather to achieve a retro and sophisticated feel. NIPPON MADE shoes are the genuine article.
SOPH is a men's brand established in 1998. Taking great care to use materials made for the outdoors, SOPH produces collections that feature highly functional clothing for everyday wear. Their offerings also incorporate materials like binchoutan (※1) to create clothes which give the wearer a sense of Japan's unique culture.
(※1) Binchoutan, or white charcoal, is a variety of high-grade charcoal made in Japan.
Three large brands available at this store really raise the bar for Tokyo domestic brands: SOPHNET, which offers refined everyday wear, Uniform Experiment, which features designs embodying free expression and liberation from existing rules, and F.C. Real Bristol, which is a football brand with Nike as an official supplier.
Among other special products, the store also offers a series of navy camouflage-patterned, highly functional bags developed through a collaboration with TUMI, and luxurious slip-on Vans sneakers.
The shoe store Atmos opened in Tokyo's Harajuku district in the year 2000. "Sneakers as fashion" is the store's mission statement, and its interior features a 'sneaker wall', as seen in the photos. The name derives from the English word 'atmosphere,' and it refers to the store's desire to be "as natural as breathing air" to its customers.
For starters, Atmos features major brand collaborations and high-quality items that are a cut above others, as well as handling goods that are store-exclusive.
With shoes, clothing, caps, and bags available for purchase, it is a highly-recommended shop for men.
Check Out the Restaurant Floors!
The 7th and 8th floors of Ikebukuro PARCO are the restaurant floors. Japanese foods like sushi, soba noodles, grilled eel, tonkatsu (pork cutlet), okonomiyaki and the like are all accounted for, but there are restaurants that serve Western and Korean cuisine as well.
Tablets are available to assist in your restaurant-hunting, and you can use these tablets to help you find the food you are looking for. Not just limited to food queries, you can also use the tablets to search for fashion brands in the stores at PARCO.
Related article: Japanese Encyclopedia: Okonomiyaki, Kansai Style
Tonkatsu Wako offers delicious tonkatsu (※2) using carefully selected ingredients, made with expert cooking techniques. Preparation, slicing, breading, and frying are all done step-by-step with the kind of precision only found at a restaurant specializing in tonkatsu.
(※2) Tonkatsu is thin-sliced pork that's dipped in egg and panko bread crumbs, then deep-fried to a pleasant crisp.
Amazingly, Tonkatsu Wako also offers unlimited refills of rice, cabbage and miso soup (※3). You can get as much as you like of rice cooked in a kama (※4), very fresh cabbage, and the miso soup that Japanese people love.
(※3) Miso soup is prepared from bonito and konbu seaweed, boiled to extract a stock, then flavored with miso (fermented soybean paste), which has been used in Japan since ancient times.
(※4) A kama is a pot made from metal, used to cook rice. It is also used as a vessel when serving food.
Hitsumabushi is a famous dish from Nagoya. Hitsumabushi Bincho is a popular establishment operating in that area, and now you can taste their specialty in Ikebukuro. Meant to be enjoyed three ways every time you eat it, Hitsumabushi is essentially eel that's carefully grilled over white charcoal, with tender flesh on the inside and crispy skin on the outside.
Hitsumabushi is then coated with a special tamari soy sauce-based glaze that adds sweetness to the dish and supports the flavor of the eel.
To learn how to eat Hitsumabushi, refer to our article.
Related Article: The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi
Did anything strike your fancy? At Ikebukuro PARCO, you can peruse shops featuring all the latest Japanese fashions. With both a men's floor and a women's floor, you can enjoy shopping with your friends and family.
When you are feeling hungry, the restaurant floor has delicious food to offer. As a bonus, you can sample famous dishes from many other prefectures while remaining in Tokyo.
The next time you come to Ikebukuro, stop by PARCO and have fun!
Address: 1-28 Minamiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo-to
Closed on: Open all year (Except during the New Year holiday)
Credit cards accepted: ●●
Foreign language assistance: ●●
Menus available in:
Station: Ikebukuro Station
Access: Ikebukuro Station, east exit. One minute walk.
[JR] Yamanote Line・Saikyou Line・Shonan Shinjuku Line・Tojo Main Line
[Tokyo Metro] Marunoichi Line・Yurakucho Line・Fukutoshin Line
[Seibu] Ikebukuro Line
Price range: -
Religious accommodations: -
Telephone number: 03-5391-8000
Official homepage: Ikebukuro PARCO