The basements of Japanese department stores are areas where they sell foodstuffs commonly called "depachika" (short for "department store" and "chika," basement). Depachika are wonderlands where you can find plenty of products great for souvenirs, such as bento boxes, liquor, and sweets! Here are 5 recommended depachika in Tokyo that are full of great items.
1. Isetan Shinjuku Branch
This themed department store is called the world's largest fashion museum, and it's in Shinjuku, an area full of shopping facilities. The charm of this depachika is the fashionable appearance of most of its products. There are also plenty of Isetan-limited items made in collaboration with well-established shops. A particularly recommended shop to check out is the sweets brand that uses Japanese tea, Nihon Chaka SANOAH. The Caramel Sando Cookie Kurumi Matcha (2,484 JPY (incl. tax) for a set of 10) is a cookie sandwich filled with rich caramel made with matcha and walnuts, and you can only buy it at this depachika.
2. Ikebukuro Seibu
Ikebukuro Seibu is directly connected to Ikebukuro Station's east exit, and helped light the fire beneath Japan's depachika trend. This depachika is like a food theme park because everything about it is Japan's largest, including number of daily visitors, number of shops, and floor size! Something you should definitely consider buying is the Kahoron (432 JPY (incl. tax) for a set of 4 pieces total of 2 types)) from WA・BI・SA, a sweets brand that mixes western sweets with Japanese flavors. It's a traditional cookie from Europe that was rearranged and given a delicate, deep flavor. It's made with various Japanese ingredients such as wasanbon sugar, matcha, kinako (roasted soybean flour), and more. The cute package changes depending on the season, so it's a lovely souvenir for girls.
3. Nihombashi Takashimaya
Nihombashi Takashimaya opened in 1933. That building is now Japan's first department building to be designated a national important cultural artifact, so it has great cultural value. It was designed with dignified western European-style details to Japanese-style architecture. The various details are also must-sees. Something you should definitely pick up in the depachika is the Hello Kitty Manju (324 JPY (incl. tax)) from the well-established sweets shop Shiose Sohonke! Manju is a filled steamed yeast bun, and this one has the internationally popular Hello Kitty stamped on it, and it's so cute you might not even want to eat it! it has a shelf life of two days, so it's recommended that you buy it on the last day of your trip.
4. Matsuya Ginza
Ginza, a classy neighborhood, is home to Matsuya Ginza. It's known for offering simple, chic, modern, and stylish beauty, and the glass and white building stands out. There are plenty of sweets shops from traditional Japanese confectionery to western shops lined up in the depachika, but where you should head is the sake corner called Guru Marche SAKE. It's a spot made for people that want to enjoy Japanese sake. They have a wide line-up focusing on carefully selected junmai (sake made without added sugar or alcohol) so that anyone from beginners to experts can find something for them here. They also sell sake-related items so that you can drink it deliciously. An example of the prices here is the 720 ml bottle of Tamajiman Junmai Muroka for 972 JPY.
5. Tokyu Hyakkaten Toyoko Branch
Tokyu Hyakkaten Toyoko, directly connected to Shibuya, is home to Tokyu Food Show, a food area in the depachika. It's easily accessible, and has a nicely balanced line-up that includes sweets, side dishes, groceries, and more. Something you should buy here is the Pare Chocola (281 JPY (incl. tax) for 1 from Bel Amer, a shop that makes distinctly Japanese chocolates. It's a round, flat chocolate sweet that was made with great attention to the ingredients, weight, and texture, and comes in 30 different flavors. You can also enjoy Japanese flavors like matcha and hojicha (roasted green tea).
There are plenty of shops in depachika, so you should be able to have a nice time looking around for souvenirs. Please look for something that reminds you of the person you're planning on giving a gift to.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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