The Two Giant Megastores of Okinawa – Parco City vs. Rycom
For years the big Aeon Mall Rycom has dominated the shopping scene in Okinawa. The giant shopping center opened in April 2015 and has drawn locals and visitors alike. As the largest commercial building in Okinawa it consists of 210 specialty shops. But a rival has appeared, with better locations for visitors, new stores that have never been seen on the island and a powerful name: San-A Parco City. Which of the malls has the upper hand?
Japan’s Giant AEON vs. Okinawa Local San-A
The biggest difference between them is that Rycom is part of Japan’s dominating retailer “AEON” and Parco City is the biggest of the Okinawa based supermarket chain “San-A”, which also hosts tenants, retailers and restaurants. Locals know and love both malls.
Parco City is closer to the airport than Rycom Mall
San-A’s Parco just opened in June 2019, and even though it is not bigger in size than Aeon’s Rycom, it does have more stores (250 stores in total) and a great advantage for visitors. It is located right in Urasoe, which neighbors to the prefecture’s capital Naha. Parco City is only 15 minutes away from the airport and 5 minutes away from the wharf. It is easy for the tourists and short-term visitors who arrive by plane or cruise to jump on the bypass that leads straight to the mall for a quick shopping stop on Okinawa. Rycom on the other hand is located more inland, in Okinawa City, so the access is not as easy for short term visitors.
But… Rycom mall is better for a day trip
“Let’s just relax at the mall” is something you hear often, when locals plan on a day trip in an air-conditioned shopping center. Rycom is usually their first pick. There are great relaxation zones, fast internet, a little aquarium, couches and massage chairs in every corner.
Going to Parco, there is definitely seating, but the mall doesn’t feel as open. It is more like a come-with-a-purpose-and-shop, rather than a relax-and-spend-time-here mall. Rycom’s dining food court is also huge and expands over 2 floors, but Parco has only a limited food court area on the second floor.
Parco premieres never seen stores on Okinawa
Before we disregard the new mall all together because of it’s different set up, it does have the upper hand in one area: the new stores it features. It has a bigger H&M (now there are two on island), and hosts new stores that make their first appearance on Okinawa like the European clothing retailer ZARA, the American Chinese fast food chain “Panda Express” which only has 3 more shops in all of Japan, the American Makeup brand NYX which was only available on the mainland before.
Furthermore, a lot more high end perfume, make-up and clothes brands are sold at Parco which previously could only be found at outlet stores or in the airport’s duty free section. Parco also has great import foods in the San-A supermarket section like cheeses and wine from France, beer from Germany and all kinds of Korean and Chinese delicacies.
So which mall is best?
The answer is easy: depending on what you go to the mall for, you will like either one of them better. Therefore, both benefit locals and tourists alike, both are great to spend during typhoon days at and give you an opportunity to shop for friends, yourself and to pick up interesting “omiyage” presents for your loved ones at home.
Rycom is your mall if you have all day and want to relax. Parco offers new selections, great brands and never before seen stores that are a great local alternative to Aeon.