“depachika” or Japanese food halls
Elizabeth Andoh does a nice profile of the “depachika” (“depaato”= department store, “chika” = basement) or the basement-level food halls that are found at most of the major train stations in Tokyo.
Even the most optimistic economists concede that Japan’s retail environment is “challenging.” Yet in those department stores that succeed, depachika pull in astonishing sums. Gross sales for a best-selling brand of cake or cookies can, at a single location, come to about $4.5 million.
No one can say for sure just why Japan’s food markets were first placed at basement level, nor why they generate nearly a quarter of a store’s total revenue, but the most likely explanation lies in the pervasive train-taking and gift-giving culture here.
When I visited Seoul last year, I saw similar food halls in Korean department stores.
Culinary Delights Laid Out to Tempt Japan’s Commuters [nytimes.com]