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Food display

Depachika:  Japan’s Culinary Wonderland

Part of travel is discovering the culture and beautiful destinations of a country. Perhaps one of the best ways to get to know a country’s culture is through their cuisine. Japan is known for its delicious foods and the meticulous care that goes into preparing them.

Depachika is a term for department store basements. Depachika is a combination of the words depato, which literally means department store in Japanese, while chika means basement. In Japan, the basement of a department store can only mean one thing — a cornucopia of gastronomical delights.Sushi on displayBasements of department stores in Japan were places where you could usually find seasonal and ceremonial gift items. But during the 1930s, department stores began selling food in their basements as a convenient and quick way to get a ready meal.  Department store basements became a vogueish way for a casual and even stylish dining experience and only in the year 2000 came to be known formally  as depachika.

You can find a variety of food in depachikas. Numerous food selections from all around the globe satisfy your every food craving. The vast array of food choices  includes the usual Japanese fare such as pre-prepared bento boxes, sushi, tempura, and ramen. If you’re hankering for a sandwich, you can choose from an assortment of cold cut meats and cheeses at the delicatessen section. If you need freshly baked bread, salad, or a hot steaming bowl of soup, fear not: there are those, too.

Dessert displayTo satisfy that sweet tooth, there are mouthwatering desserts from delicious cakes to traditional Japanese sweets (wagashi) and the like. The foods in depachika are in their own specialized sections that are of the freshest ingredients of vegetables, fruits, fish, meats, dairy, breads, and even liquor. All the food is carefully prepared and beautifully laid out, ready to be eaten or as take-out. The food could rival the creations prepared by the best chefs and food artisans.

Some of the most popular depachika are found in the trendy and popular department stores in Tokyo. Here are some of the best ones to visit when in Tokyo, Japan.

Shinjuku Isetan, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-14-1

Ginza Mitsukoshi, Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-6-16

Ikebukuro Tobu, Toshima-ku, Nishi-Ikebukuro 1-1-25

Shibuya Tokyu Toyoko-ten, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 2-24-1

Shinjuku Keio, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku, 1-1-4



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Read all about Japanese immersion learning and studying abroad. Check out our eZasshi archives for more articles!