In Japanese department stores, the basement floor is a foodstuff market area. These areas go by the nickname “depachika” (a combination of “depato”, meaning department store, and “chika”, meaning basement). The “depachika” of Japan are fun places, kind of like “food theme parks”. The selections in these markets can be broken up into two categories: an area featuring everyday delicatessen style items and an area featuring snacks and treats. And vegetables and fish are also sold at the perishable goods market area.
With a diverse array of delicatessen shop spaces carrying Japanese, Western, and Chinese food, these “depachika” areas are almost like outdoor markets. The fragrance of freshly baked bread wafts from the bakery shop, and the sound of “gyoza” (fried dumplings) can be heard from another section. There is so much variety available, it seems like there is nothing that cannot be bought here. And some shops offer food samples. If you are offered, try a bite. Enjoy top level flavors casually at shops with eat-in areas. The user friendliness for women coming alone is also a popular point.
Many different kinds of “bento” (pre-prepared meals) are available for purchase here as well. You can even find bento and sushi take-out from the kind of Japanese restaurants selected by Michelin. And there are also shops that sell foods by weight. If you get the chance, it might be fun to purchase something and enjoy it at your hotel. Showcases of famous brand western and Japanese treats shops line the snack and treats area, and the beautiful colors and amount of diversity are absolutely amazing. Seasonal events, like the lineup of chocolate shops for Valentine’s Day, are a lot of fun.
Many of these “depachika” areas are connected directly to subway stations, so they are great places to go shopping even on rainy days. They are always bustling with shoppers, but lunch time and evenings are especially crowded.
Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store
Mitsukoshi’s depachika, which serves up the flavors of famous shops from delicatessen style items, bento, and sweets to alcoholic beverages, features a “Kayuan” section. This is a select shop with assorted treats that Mitsukoshi has strictly selected from high quality brands nationwide. It is organized in a self service format where you pick up the items you want yourself.
ISETAN Shinjuku Store
This is one of the most popular of the Tokyo depachika. The best items nationwide and worldwide are gathered here, including fresh perishables, delicatessen style items, sweets, and alcoholic beverages. The shop of globally famous chocolatier Jean-Paul Hevin is one of the attractions.
3-14-1 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo
Business hours: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
No regularly scheduled holidays
This is located right near the Tokyo Station. It is inside the high rise tower Gran Tokyo North Tower. Many shinkansen users shop here, so there is a plentiful selection of bento and sweets. Sweets are especially in full force with about 50 brands represented.
Bento are especially plentiful here. It has a wide assortment of selections including kaiseki cuisine (a type of traditional Japanese course meal), unagi (eel), tempura, sushi, hors d’oeuvres, reasonably priced sandwiches, and even grocery items like ham and cheese.