Japanese-style depachika food courts
The delicious and luxurious food courts of Tokyo's department stores
Japan has the most elegant restaurants as well as vending machines and convenient stores selling snacks and beverages on seemingly every corner. Somewhere in the middle on the gourmet scale are the food courts of the big department stores. Usually they are located in the department store basement and are called depachika in Japanese.
You can find the big depachika sections often located close to the main train stations where many people pass through on their commute. You can find anything here from quick snacks to eat right away to beautifully wrapped gifts.
Many shops here will be specialised shops, for example onigiri shops. This kind of shop is usually one long counter full of onigiri rice balls on display for you to choose. Other shops sell individual portions of salads, meats, sushi, or deep fried foods.
The depachika is the place you want to go to pick up a delicious meal without having to do any cooking at all. You can buy a birthday cake with candles here on the way to a birthday party or treat yourself to an especially nice bento lunch box.
I also like to at least window-shop here because some of the shops prepare the foods on site. You can watch bakers frost cakes perfectly every time so very fast or maybe watch a skilled chef prepare Japanese rolled omelette. For me, this is nearly as good as trying the food itself.
And if you do not want to buy food here for yourself, come to the depachika to buy someone a gift. Popular gifts sold by many competing shops are Japanese tea, senbei rice crackers, traditional Japanese sweets, and chocolates.
Here is where you can find some of the best depachika in Tokyo: Matsuzakaya Ueno, Solamachi at Tokyo Skytree (although the food floor is not in the basement), Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, Daimaru Tokyo, and Matsuya Ginza.