Where can you buy food in Tokyo, other than at convenience stores and supermarkets? Ready-to-Eat meals sold at Depachika!

During your travels in Japan, you may go to convenience stores and grab everyday, convenient food. Their foods are easy, tasty, and cheap. However, if you get bored with that, I recommend going to “Depachika” (department food courts). Their prepared foods are of good quality and you’ll find a wide variety, because each department store takes pride in their choice of food. Many people who buy food from department stores are very health-conscious consumers. It’s also easy to find organic, ready to eat meals at most Depachika.

2016-05-10   Culture, Foods & Drinks, Tokyo,

Depachika

Depachika


【 CONTENTS 】

The basements of Department Stores (Depachika:デパ地下) are generally designated as food courts in Japan. You’ll full of a variety of ready-to-eat food raging from Japanese Food (和食), to Asian and Western Food.

Depachika: A daily food market for Tokyoites

Train stations and department stores are often connected with these underground areas, because of the convenience. Many Japanese working housewives and singles love visiting Depachika, because the prepared food gives them more time in their daily lives. It is said that the quality of the food at Depachika is very good and is offered in a wide variety, so as to attract people who want more selection in their everyday diet.

Depachika (Daimaru Tokyo)
Depachika (Daimaru Tokyo)

What kinds of ready-to-eat foods are available at Depachika?

Japanese people love Bento (prepared lunch box). They are usually a combination of rice and side dishes. A well designed lunch box is easy to carry with a beautiful look, providing a balance of foods that are good for your health. Sushi take-out boxes are also very popular. Nigiri-sushi(握りずし), Maki-sushi(巻きずし) and Kaisen-Don(海鮮丼) are available.

Bento (in Daimaru Tokyo)
Bento (in Daimaru Tokyo)

cute bento
Cute Bento (as of 28th Mar, 2016, Shinjyuku Takashimaya)

Sushi Bento (in Daimaru Tokyo)
Sushi Bento (Daimaru Tokyo)

Bento (Asakusa tanbo KUSATSUTEI)
Fine Ryotei (Asakusa tanbo KUSATSUTEI) Bento (Daimaru Tokyo)

Fine cuisine at Depachika?

Some vendors at department stores are smaller outlets of famous restaurants. For instance, Kikunoi (菊乃井), a Ryotei restaurant (Ryotei: expensive and exclusive Japanese restaurants) established in Kyoto, has a booth at the Shinjyuku Takashimaya department store. The average cost for 1 dinner meal at this Ryotei restaurant is more than 15000 yen. However, if you buy a lunch box (bento) at their outlet store, the prices are between 1700-3000 yen, allowing you to taste their high quality food for a lower cost.

Ryotei
A sample image of Ryotei

the top 50 restaurants of Asia in 2016
the top 50 restaurants of Asia in 2016

Homemade Japanese foods sold at Depachika?

Along with fine cuisine, you’ll also find typical, homemade Japanese dishes (Sozai). It’s convenient when ordering, because you can see the ingredients in the window cases. You can also find vegetarian-friendly foods with the help of the staff, who are readily available to answer any questions. Sozai are sold by weight, usually by each 100 grams.

Sozai
Sozai (as of 28th Mar, 2016, Shinjyuku Takashimaya)

Free food tasting?

Tasting food samples is also part of the fun of visiting Depachika. Some vendors prepare food samples as an advertisement. Find one of the staff members, dressed in a uniform holding a tray with small cuts of food, and ask for a sample.

foodtasting

Are there any cheap meals in Depachika?

Department store food vendors prepare high quality, fresh food daily, so the price is relatively higher than prepared food from convenient stores and supermarkets. You might be able to get a good discount if you go 30-60 minutes before closing, but you might find yourself in a rush of people, all trying for the same discounts. (Most department stores in Japan close at 8 or 9 pm.)

Are dishes sold at Depachika cold?

The Bento (lunch box) and Sozai are usually sold at room temperature and are properly seasoned, cooked, and packaged to maintain taste and freshness. Microwave ovens are usually not available at most Depachika.

Where to eat Depachika foods?

Eating food while walking inside department stores is considered bad manners in Japan. Many Department Stores have roof top terraces for dining. During the Spring season when cherry blossoms are in bloom, it’s popular to go eat under the Sakura trees. This is a very Japanese style picnic, cherry blossom viewing (花見)

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Eat Bento outside (in Kokyo Gaien National Garden)
Eat Bento outside (in Kokyo Gaien National Garden)

 

What else can you find at Depachika?

A wide variety of other foods and beverages are available at Depachika, such as snacks, pastries, groceries, local specialties of Japan, and even specialties from around the world. Traditional Japanese sweets and snacks sold at Depachika usually have a great reputation in Japan for being extremely delicious. It’s fun strolling around Depachika to find something to bring home as a souvenir.

Japanese sake
Japanese sake collections (as of 28th Mar, 2016, Shinjyuku Takashimaya)

Wagashi
Traditional Japanese confectionery, Wagashi (as of 28th Mar, 2016, Shinjyuku Takashimaya)

 

I believe that the food is one of the main reasons people travel to Japan. Experiencing the food culture featured at Depachika, might just turn you into a fanatic of Japanese food!

 

Nihonbashi:日本橋】

    Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store


    1-4-1, Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo


    http://mitsukoshi.mistore.jp.e.bm.hp.transer.com/store/nihombashi/index.html

Tokyo:東京】

    Daimaru Tokyo Store


    1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


    http://www.daimaru.co.jp.e.md.hp.transer.com/tokyo/index.html

Shinjuku:新宿】

    Takashimaya Shinjuku Store


    5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


    https://www.takashimaya.co.jp/shinjuku/store_information/index.html

【PR】Shinjuku Takashimaya has “Rental Bike One Day Plan” service for foreign visitors. Find more ⇒http://tabihatsu.jp/tabee-japan/program/91115.html

    Isetan Shinjuku Store


    3-14-1, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo


    http://isetan.mistore.jp/store/shinjuku/index.html

Shibuya:渋谷】

    Tokyu Toyoko Store


    2-24-1, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


    http://www.tokyu-dept.co.jp.e.fa.hc.transer.com/toyoko/

【Ueno:上野】

    Matsuzakaya Ueno Store


    3-29-5, Ueno, Taitou-ku, Tokyo


    http://www.matsuzakaya.co.jp.e.me.hp.transer.com/ueno/index.html

【Asakusa:浅草】

    Matsuya Asakusa Store


    1-4-1 Hanakawado, Taito-ku, Tokyo


    http://www.matsuya.com/visitor/en/m_asakusa/

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AUTHOR

Kumo

Writer / Translator

I love travelling and tourists! Where to next? Wherever it is, I hope to find a good onsen (hot spring bath), delicious drinks, and friendly people. I enjoy telling Japanese stories in English, and it fills my life with plenty of learning opportunities!