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If you’re visiting Japan, you should try to go to what is called a “depachika.” 


“Depachika” is the Japanese abbreviation for “the department store basement.” It’s a floor located in most department stores where there is a very broad selection of food and sweets to buy.

Why do they sell food in the basements of department stores? There is actually a good reason for this.

In order to handle food ingredients and fish, the necessary plumbing for the water and gas is easiest to access in the basement. And in case of a water leak, the chances of it affecting other floors are slim. … It’s also very easy to access the depachika from the subway system.

These depachika are very popular with foreign tourists, and there are many surprising points about them.

Here are some of the most charming parts of depachika.

(This list was originally broadcast on TV Asahi’s TV show “Korezo Nippon Ryu!” and is reproduced here.)

1.An overwhelming variety of products

In depachika, you can find every kind of food, desserts, and drink on offer. Many stores have set up stalls in this enormous area offering the products they are most proud of.

Side dishes






For example, in Japan’s one of the largest depachika in Ikebukuro Seibu are 230 food stalls with more than 10,000 products in an area about the size of 1.5 Tokyo Domes(approx. 7.0 ha). There are also around 2500 employees.


Of course, with this large number of products, there are several stalls that are offering the same product. For example, In Ikebukuro Seibu, there are 7 stalls selling potato  salad and 8 selling karaage chicken and shumai dumplings.

However, though the products are the same, the seasonings, recipe, and size are different. Since depachikas attract many kinds of customers with different kinds of tastes, they offer a variety of the same product to match their tastes. This way, their customers can taste various styles to find which one they like best.

2.They offer freshly-made products

Depachikas offer side dishes freshly made for sale. How can such an overwhelming number of dishes be so fresh?

In larger stores they will have their own kitchen, or in the case of large department stores, there will be a kitchen on-site. They can make the food in those kitchens and then immediately carry it to their stall and line it up in their showcase.


In the case of depachikas where there is no space for kitchens, there is usually a system set up where the kitchens are nearby in the neighborhood and can deliver the product quickly to the stalls.

3.You can sample food

At many stalls offering side dishes or even sweets, they offer samples. You can find the taste you prefer thanks to this sampling. 


The school of thought for the stores is that even if someone samples with no original desire to buy, sampling delicious food might inspire the sampler to buy their wares. It is also polite to ask the employees for permission before taking a sample.

If you go to a depachika, please try some of the samples. Of course, if you end up liking anything, please make sure to buy some.

(However, if you eat a lot of the amount offered or walk around sampling at every store without buying anything, this is a breach of manners. Please respect the restrictions.)

4.  You can buy by weight

Usually in supermarkets side dishes and other products are sold in packs, but at department stores you can specify the weight you’d like. 


Moreover, since you’re able to sample some of these foods, if there’s something you like, you can buy just enough to satisfy you. This is rather useful in case no one else in your family likes the product; none will go to waste.

5. Attentive service

First of all, in many very large department stores, there will be staff designated as concierge, and if you tell them the product you’re interested in, they can recommend stores and particular varieties.

For example, at Ikebukuro Seibu, lately sweets and desserts have gotten very popular so there are usually 9 people working as dessert concierges. Even if a customer asks for something very specific such as “I would like some sort of dessert that I can only buy here as a homecoming gift for my parents who like coffee,” the concierges will be able to give you an answer immediately. All the ingredients and nutritional information are included so you can also ask for suggestions taking your health into consideration.


Also, on rainy days, most stores take the consideration to put a vinyl or plastic cover over your paper bag. If you’re wondering how the people working in depachika know the weather even though they’re in the basement, it’s because there is staff in charge of checking the weather.

For example, in the large department store Daimaru, a staff member checks the weather every 30 minutes. If it’s raining even just a little bit, they change the music to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Each stall has their own signal to begin covering the paper bags with plastic.


By the way at Daimaru when it stops raining they place “Sunshine Of My Life,” and when it rains they play the Japanese children’s song “Yuki ya Konkon.” Maybe if you go to a dekachika you’ll be able to notice what kind of information they’re transmitting through the music!

6.They have time sales

Actually, at depachika, they begin discounting their wares an hour before closing. For items like side dishes, fish, meat, and other fresh foods, they have a shelf life so it would be bad for the store if the day ended without that day’s products being sold. It’s not uncommon to see a 1000 yen product being sold for 100 yen less an hour before closing, 200 yen off 30 minutes before closing, and finally  half off 15 minutes before closing.


You should try to aim to go to depachika during this time to take advantage of the sales!



For reference, here’s the video. This video should give you an idea of what a depachika is like in Japan.



Characteristics of exemplary department stores

Each department store has its own characteristics and atmosphere.


Primarily aimed at people who are in their late 30s or 40s, this store has a very high-class image. It’s a very calm atmosphere.


A store filled with items aimed at people of all ages as well as a full assortment of items that you can only find here, it has an atmosphere that that the entire family can enjoy.



A store that sells items closely related to the region with a not very expensive threshold, it’s an accessible store where shopping is enjoyable.


A department store made for young people who hate the standard item and want unique fashion. They also have a men’s fashion store in Shinjuku.


Each store is made taking the region into consideration when the store is being designed, and it’s a comfortable, easy atmosphere for shopping.


List of the biggest department stores in Central Tokyo

In the Tokyo station area


1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 
Phone: (03)3212-8011
Official Home Page

In the Nihonbashi area

Mitsukoshi Nihombashi

1-4-1 Nihombashi Muro-machi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 3241-3311
Official Home Page

Takashimaya Nihonbashi

2-4-1 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03)3211-4111
Official Home Page

In the Ginza area

Mitsukoshi Ginza

4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 3562-1111
Official Home Page

Matsuya Ginza

3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 3567-1211
Official Home Page

In the Shinjuku area


5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 5361-1111
Official Home Page

ODAKYU Department Store Shinjyuku store

1-1-3 Nishi Shinjyuku, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 3342-1111
Official Home Page

Keio Department Store Shinjyuku

1-1-4 Nishi Shinjyuku, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 3342-2111
Official Home Page

ISETAN Shinjyuku

3-14-1 Shinjyuku, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 3352-1111
Official Home Page

In the Ikebukuro area

TOBU Department Store Ikebukuro

1-1-25 Nishi Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Phone:(03) 3981-2211
Official Home Page

SEIBU Department Store Ikebukuro main store

1-28-1 Minami Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Phone:(03) 3981-0111
Official Home Page

In the Shibuya area

Shibuya SEIBU Department

21-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 
Phone: (03) 3462-0111
Official Home Page

TOKYU Department Store Toyoko

2-24-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 
Phone: (03)3477-3111
Official Home Page

TOKYU Department Store main store

2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 
Phone: (03)3477-3111
Official Home Page

In the Ueno, Asakusa area

Matsuzakaya Ueno

3-29-5 Ueno, Taitou-ku, Tokyo
Phone: (03) 3832-1111
Official Home Page

Matsuya Asakusa

1-4-1 Hanakawado, Taitou-ku, Tokyo 
Phone: (03) 3842-1111
Official Home Page

(All store list photos from except TOKYU Department Store Toyoko branch, which is from



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