Tourist Tip #4: The Underground World of Food and DEPACHIKA!

Japanese department stores are famous for many things: elevator girls, first-class customer service, and unparalleled gift wrapping. But venture underneath one (on the basement floor) and you'll discover something else they have to offer: the world of "depachika".

"Depachika" is a portmanteau on "depato" (department store) and "chika" (basement). It's essentially a foodstuff market area where you'll find an array of delicatessen-style shops and items from everyday essentials to regional specialties and more. And not just Japanese edibles, either. Western, Korean, italian, French, and Chinese foods are also common finds.

For many who live in Japan, depachika are a part of everyday life, as they are nearly all connected directly to subway and train stations - making them the perfect place to shop for on-the-way-home meals. I almost always visit them when picnicking or wanting to buy a foodgift for a friend.

Almost every major department store has one; they're fun to stroll around in even if you're not shopping for anything (and a perfect place to kill time during heavy rain storms). Some of the most famous are in Tokyo, here's a quick list:

Nihombashi Mitsukoshi (Main Store)
1-4-1 Nihombashi Muro-machi Chuo-ku Tokyo

ISETAN (Shinjuku Store)
3-14-1 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo

Daimaru Tokyo
1-9-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda-ku Tokyo
http://www.daimaru.co.jp/english/tokyo.html (English)

Matsuya Ginza
3-6-1 Ginza Chuo-ku Tokyo
http://www.matsuya.com/foreign/index.html (English)

by Former Deep Japan Writer

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