The depachika: a kitchen in the basement デパ地下
Wander past the counters and try a bit of everything!
Buy a pre-boxed bento, or pick and choose what you'd like...
You can find everything you'd possibly want to eat in a depachika...
A savory tour of Japan's department stores
In Japan, the basements of department stores are devoted to food. These floors offer a huge array of Japanese dishes, perfect for satisfying all your cravings!
The word depachika is one of those typical contractions of the Japanese language. It is a mixture of English depa (short for department store) and the Japanese chika (basement). As the name suggests, it is the basement floor of each department store in Japan, which is always devoted to food.
Matsuzakaya, Matsuya, Mitsukoshi and Isetan are famous department stores and veritable institutions in Japan. They usually have two underground floors, sometimes more. The first is usually devoted to a market, with stalls selling fresh produce like fish, meat and vegetables, while the second basement offers a variety of prepared dishes by sellers and bento (lunch boxes).
The advantage is that you can see what you can eat. You can often taste the products before buying and, if in doubt, take a little of everything in small quantities. The bento are appetizing and the quality is always excellent.
In Large Cities
In the capital, you will be spoiled for choice. In Ginza you can find countless department stores, and in Shibuya, the recently opened Hikarie. In Nihombashi, the very trendy Mitsukoshi, the gigantic Isetan, and Tobu in Shinjuku and Ikebururo. In Kyoto you can go down to the basement directly from the central station to enjoy the depachika of Isetan. A little further, you will find one in Avanti.
Visiting a depachika is an activity that is entirely free, and really worth a visit!