By David, long-term Tokyo resident & food-loving traveler
When you go to a department store in Japan, always check out the basement. This is the best place to shop for delicious bento boxes, beautiful foodie presents, and luxurious treats. On a side note, also check out the top floors. These are usually filled with a good selection of restaurants and cafes.
The word depachika itself has nothing to do with food. It is a combination of department store and the Japanese word meaning underground. Many of the best department stores are located near train stations. And often you can walk directly from the subway into the underground depachika food section without ever going outside.
Inside the depachika floors, many smaller shops sell their specialties. You can find gourmet onigiri rice balls, bento boxes, breads, skewers of grilled meat, or fresh gyoza dumplings. Beautifully wrapped gifts are also available. They are often sets of tea, cookies, senbei rice crackers, or traditional Japanese sweets. Gifts often come in stylish tins or boxes ready for transport. Some shops prepare their food on site and you can watch the chefs cook.
Two department stores to check out while sightseeing in Tokyo are Matsuya Asakusa and Matsuzakaya Ueno.
Matsuya Asakusa is next to the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line and the Toei Asakusa Line in the same building as Tobu Railway in Asakusa. The depachika food hall here is a good place to pick up a Japanese lunch box and snacks for a quick picnic in Sumida Park. The park along Sumida River has a nice view of Tokyo Skytree. For sweets, check out the wide selection of Japanese sweets offered on the first floor. Many of the sweets are meant to be given as gifts, so they are beautifully packaged.
Matsuzakaya Ueno is located next the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Ueno-Hirokoji Station and the Toei Oedo Line Ueno-Okachimachi Station. Here, you can also enter the depachika food hall directly when you come from the trains. More spacious than Matsuya Asakusa and with a different style, you can find a great selection of shops here. It is a great place to shop for foodies. And of course there are restaurants and cafes hidden in the department stores’ top floors. From here you can walk over to Ueno Park and have a picnic at Shinobazu Pond. For more foodie fun nearby, walk across the street to Ameyoko Market. If you are not sure where to go in Ueno, there are is also a tourist information center located in B1F Matsuzakaya Ueno (PARCO_ya UENO side).
Click the link below to read this related article you might like: “Shopping for foodies in Tokyo - Ueno’s Ameyoko Market”