What kind of place is “Depachika”?
It was in 1930 when department stores in Japan started selling food on the basement floor, which was a place to sell ceremonial and seasonal gift items at that time. It then became a casual and stylish place that brought a little bit of luxury into daily life and it came to be called “Depachika” in 2000. Nowadays, all department stores pursue fashion in food as fast as they can, offering a variety of appealing shops including delicatessens that also serve first-class hotels and popular restaurants, confectioner’s shops selling items perfect for a souvenir, and a fresh food section with a beautiful display of high quality food.
Park’s Depachika Report!
Park Sang jin, who came to Japan from Korea as an exchange student this spring, visited “ISETAN Shinjuku store.” Seeing a diverse array of delicatessen style items and treats and the sophisticated display, he says, “One of the biggest appeal of Depachika is that you can enjoy just looking.” He checked out a shop he was interested in straightaway.
*The items introduced here are from the point we visited (October 2014) and may change hereafter.
We first visited the section of delicatessen style items and bento or prepared meals. The section carries a wide variety of international cuisine including Japanese, Western, and Chinese food from appetizers to salads and main dishes. Their beautiful presentation is worth seeing, but the food is also seasoned so it is still delicious when it gets cold. If you want to taste Japanese home cooking meals, check out “Matsuoka” where Japanese delicatessen style items are sold by weight starting from about 350 yen for 100g. The food is placed into a package that is easy to carry, so you can take it back to your hotel, too.
“Jiyugaoka AEN” sells Japanese bento or prepared meals in a box and delicatessen style items that use seasonal food ingredients. The bento box woven with bamboo carries a Japanese atmosphere and is popular among visitors from overseas. Park bought a ginger-fried pork bento for lunch.
Sweets are popular, too. The shops carry a wide variety of Japanese confectionery from traditional ones to modern ones. “Suzukake” provides traditional Japanese confectionery in the modern style in easy-to-eat sizes. “Ameya Eitaro,” a shop specializing in candies opened by a Japanese confectionery shop with 150 years of history, is also unique. Park seems to like the candies imitating cosmetics, which evolved from traditional candies, saying, “These will make a great souvenir when I go home to my country.”
Sweets beautifully decorated and wrapped also caught our eyes. Park was surprised to see the cake from “L’OLIOLI365 by Anniversary” that has a princess in a dress as a motif. “I have rarely seen such a delicate cake,” he says. “CAFE OHZAN” also sells cute sweets like a fairy tale in a beautiful package.
Park is interested in the distribution industry in Japan and commented on the fresh food area, “It is amazing that all the items displayed here seem fresh.” In the fruit section, strictly selected fruit from all over Japan including apples from Aomori Prefecture and grapes from Okayama Prefecture are displayed.
“Matsuzakagyu Senmon Azabu Nisshin” in the meat corner sells “Matsuzaka beef,” brand beef of Japan. Fatty beef is popular overseas as well. Fresh fish are displayed in the seafood corner, and we hear that many visitors from overseas ask how to cook fish at the cooking demonstration corner.
Lastly we checked out the sake section that carries local sake from all over Japan. Park loves warmed sake and seems happy saying, “they have a wide variety of sake and the label design looks stylish, too.”
If the weather is fine, you can eat what you bought at Depachika on the roof of the department store. Park seems to be satisfied with Japanese bento saying, “Delicatessen style items are also sold in Korea, but beautiful bento like the ones in Japan cannot be found yet. Japanese bento are delicious with lots of side dishes and a beautiful presentation.”
Depachika is also great for souvenir shopping
Depachika is also filled with items perfect for souvenirs. One of the popular items for souvenir is a pack of dried bonito shavings and dried kelp used for easily making “dashi” or soup stock (270 yen). For green tea flavored sweets, a standard souvenir from Japan, we recommend “Kyarameru Sando Kukki Kurumi Maccha” or Caramel Sandwich Cookie with Walnuts and Green Tea (2,484 yen for 10 pieces).
“Omedetai” (540 yen for 2 pieces), soup in sea bream-shaped wafers, and Mt. Fuji-shaped “Fujisan Crunch Chocolate” (1,050 yen for 12 pieces) are popular because of their design unique to Japan.
The stores also provide good service, one of the strengths of department stores. Coin lockers where you can leave your luggage and floor guides in different languages are available. In addition, the ISETAN Shinjuku store has a Tax-free counter in Depachika where you can go through the duty-free procedure as soon as you purchase items. Come and visit Depachika and experience food in Japan in a relaxed manner as if you are taking a walk around a market.