Working at the sake section of the depachika in Nihonbashi Takashimaya was loads of fun. As a sommelier it was my job to sell wine but my responsibilities also included selling sake, shochu, and other spirits. Who wouldn’t love to be surrounded by amazing food all day long? My breaks were spent carefully perusing the floor for new items. I would plot all morning what to have for lunch that day. The food was constantly changing and Takashimaya often held special food events on the top floor of the department store. Here I would learn about regional food, sake and shochu, and meet the purveyors who enthusiastically shared cooking suggestions and what makes their products unique.
Here are my favorite depachika in the city. It is best to pick a location based on what is convenient for you. Most of the depachika are similar. However, if I have to pick some favorites they would be Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Shinjuku Takashimaya, Shinjuku Isetan, Ginza Mitsukoshi, and Ikebukuro Tobu.
Inquire at the concierge if there are any special food events going on in the store as they may be held on an upper floor and not in the basement.
1. Shinjuku Takashimaya, Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-24-2
The restaurant floor here is great – several floors of tempting restaurants. I love Katsukura for tonkatsu. Better yet, pick up a bento and a beer in the depachika and head to the rooftop picnic area. Next door to Takashimaya is a huge Tokyu Hands for great shopping for kitchenware, tableware, stationary, and much, much more.
2. Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-4-1
There is a branch of Taiwan’s Din Tai Fun in the basement 2 and the sake department often does weekly tastings of small sake and shochu producers from around Japan. The rooftop garden is a great place to have a bento. Also, do not miss the white-gloved elevator girls (rarely seen now) and the historic elevators.
3. Shinjuku Isetan, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-14-1
Aged sake (koshu) in a special cellar and a manicured rooftop garden for enjoying your bento. Pierre Herme and Jean-Paul Hevin are popular with the locals but I love the wagashi (Japanese confectionaries).
4. Ginza Mitsukoshi, Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-6-16
A recent renovation has made this a depachika you don’t want to miss. The restaurant floor includes a branch of the famous Hakone Akatsukian soba shop, formerly in Hiroo. Time it right and watch as the soba noodles are rolled out into thin sheets and cut with the large soba bocho (soba knife).
5. Ikebukuro Tobu, Toshima-ku, Nishi-Ikebukuro 1-1-25
Japan’s largest depachika. Spend hours here and still not see it all. Also, several restaurants on the restaurant floors including a branch of Chinese iron chef, Chin Kenichi.
6. Ginza Matsuya, Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-8-1
The French bakery Maison Kayser is here.
7. Shibuya Tokyu Toyoko-ten, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 2-24-1
Located just under the Shibuya station I love the affordable sushi at Uoriki, a sushi counter located near the fresh seafood section. The sake department here also does interesting tastings of small sake and shochu brands.
8. Shinjuku Odakyu, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-3
Divided up between two buildings it may be tricky to see all of it but worth checking out. The breads at the Trois Gros bakery are tempting. There is also a Bic Camera for electronics located above the Odakyu annex.
9. Shinjuku Keio, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku, 1-1-4
A branch of the French bakery Paul is here and the store often does interesting food shows on the upper floor with themes such as ekiben (famous bento boxes from local train stations around Japan) and regional food promotions.
10. Ikebukuro Seibu, Toshima-ku, Minami-Ikebukuro 1-28-1
In the Seibu department store is a branch of Loft, a shop filled with housewares.
OK, 11 best depachika in Tokyo!
11. Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-4-1