In the late evening, you will see house-wives and working women rushing into "Depa-chika" (underground level of a department store) to buy a salad or a marinated fish dish to take out. Here you can find many famous gourmet stores opening their branch (or booth) with the latest delicacies to offer. You will find plates from five-star hotels, everyday household dishes arranged by first-class Japanese restaurants, freshly-baked baguette from a well－known bakery, just-boiled Chinese dumplings, and also local specialties from all over Japan,....etc. A lot of the stores offer dishes that include seasonal vegetables or fruits so you can feel the turning seasons with your tongue. Just a short walk in Depa-chika will enable you to be aware of the diversity and sensitivity of Japanese food and the ingenuity of the chefs.
Adding to that, the reason for Depa-chika being so popular to house-wives is the sense of getting a high-quality item for a fairly reasonable price. It is not so easy to have a full course dinner at a first-class Japanese restaurant every day. However, it is possible for people to buy just one or two dishes to add to their dinner at home.
Another reason for the popularity is the change in social standing of women in Japan. Many women have jobs so they don't have time to cook the traditional "Ichiju-Sansai dinner" which means at least one soup, three dishes, and steamed rice. For example, a typical Japanese dinner includes Miso (soy bean paste) soup with tofu and seaweed, broiled fish, Marinated mix vegetables, sweetly flavored pumpkin, and steamed rice.
Besides house wives, many unmarried young women also come to Depa-chika. They are the ones that are most sensitive to the latest trends and you can find that in Depa-chika. Especially sweets, such as cakes, puddings, fruit tarts, and chocolates are the targets of their shopping. Many TV programs and fashion magazines feature what are hottest items in Depa-chika sweets. When new sweets come out, there are even lines formed in order to buy it.
At some stores, you can also eat in at Depa-chika. Many women come to Depa-chika alone and eat a gourmet lunch or dinner here. They say it is reasonable, and easier to go into compared to a restaurant. Most eat in-style stores have a small counter and few chairs. It is not as formal as restaurants.
Either you would like to try the gourmet Japanese dish or see what the latest trend of food in Japan is, Depa-chika is the hottest gourmet spot to visit in Japan. If you have nice weather and have some time to enjoy a picnic at a park, look around the Depa-chika and pick up a few dishes to go.