R11R x Parco Emotions 2023 Exhibition
Written by Ross Locksley on 16 Nov 2023
Having been locked down due to Covid for the last few years, when I was working in South Korea in October I decided to take a slight diversion on the way home and spend five nights in Tokyo before heading home. It's been five years since I last visited the city, and I had friends to meet, shopping to do and a burning desire to find any exclusive Japanese events I could get to within a short timescale. Luck was on my side as it happened, and I managed to get to Ikebukero's Parco department store to enjoy their incredible art exhibition, the R11R x Parco Emotions 2023.
The event ran from October to November, but I chose to visit on the Saturday morning because apparently, weather willing, there was a flea-market arranged on the roof where you could buy work from some of the artists whose work was on display. As an avid collector of artbooks and original artwork, I was praying for good weather!
The artwork was scattered over 8 floors at Parco Ikebukero - art by MaedaMic (@m_mic_0707) and fujimaru2002 (@fujimaru2002)
Happily someone must have heard me, because it was unseasonably warm during my visit to Tokyo - peaking at 26 degrees, it was like Summer for the most part, and extremely humid. With such limited time i had planned to hit Ikebukero, Nakano and Akihabara in a single day, so was there at 10am for the 11am opening. A queue had formed outside the street entrance, so as a good British gentleman does, I joined in line and waited an hour for the store to open. There was a rush for the elevators, and I was headed for floor 6 to get a copy of the catalogue - this is a beautiful artbook that has all of the artwork on display collected together, organised by location. I was slightly confused to be the only person to get out on this floor, as everyone seemed eager to get to the seventh floor. Only one other person picked up a catalogue when I found them, so out of curiosity I headed up a floor to see what I'd actually been lined up for.
Turns out it was themed cafes, including Oshi No ko and some Hamster I didn't recognise. I had wondered why I was mostly in a queue with tween girls, now I feel a bit silly! Baka gaijin indeed.
Having acquired my catalogue, I then had a wander around Parco waiting for the midday opening of the flea market. Of course, the store was awash with amazing artwork, so this was a genuine pleasure.
Art by Shimakuma (X: @purin__04)
A much shorter line this time up to the roof, and after paying my 200 Yen entrance fee, I happily wandered the stalls, of which there were around twenty, all selling original art, self-produced artbooks, postcards and even clear files. I know people don't like foreigners taking pictures in public, but I saw a few locals snapping pics and stood near them to grab this cheeky snap to give an idea of the ambiance.
As I was there early, I pretty much had my pick of what was on offer. Operating much like Thought Bubble in the UK, there was a mix of styles, products and interesting goodies to choose from. While I don't usually go for items like stickers, pins or badges, I did manage to find a mug I was smitten with by Tomita Mary (@tomitaary_), some lovely artbooks by Okayuuri (@blackistat2), Coma*85 (@coma_ttana), Sanagiland (@sanagi_zzz) an original sketch by Tajima Yukie (@YukieTajima) and even a pencil case that I gifted to an artist friend when I returned.
I'm honestly in awe at the talent on display, just the sheer variety of art styles and creative products on offer was stunning. The welcoming atmosphere and genuine warmth of all the artists I met pierced the language barrier - my love of the artwork and culture was clearly evident, as was their delight in sharing it with me. I did miss having James around to translate (and just more generally for the company) but I muddled through and had a great time.
Here's the lovely goodies I brought back, I just wish I'd had room in my luggage for more!
In all I spent 4 hours wandering the store (clever bit of marketing there, getting you to go to every area!) shopping and having lunch surrounded by beautiful artwork. I deliberately avoided flipping through the catalogue so that I could find a fresh surprise around every corner, but as a way to spend some precious hours in Tokyo this was definitely one of my favourite events over the short time I had to take everything in. Certainly preferable to the disappointment of finding everything sold out in the official Capcom and Nintendo stores or chasing store-exclusive Pikachu plushes in various Pokemon centres (don't bother, they've dropped them all in favour of "My Pikachu" at every location. Boo).
There's honestly little better than attending an event that's exclusive to the time and place you're in, it's a time capsule that could only be acquired by being there, and I have to say I was genuinely beaming as I left Ikebukero with all these treasures ready to sit next to my office coffee table - they'll give me hours of pleasure.
Emotions 2023 ran from October 13th to November 12th 2023 at Parco Ikebukero in conjunction with R11R.
About Ross Locksley
Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.