In many Japanese department stores, the bottom basement floor is a marketplace of food products. The diverse line-up of quality products available on these floors is so remarkable that a new word was even created in Japanese - "depa-chika" (an abbreviated way of saying department store basement). Going around to tour different depa-chika has become a cultural activity, as a uniquely Japanese way of enjoying department stores. The basement floor of JR Kyoto Isetan, incredibly easy to visit as it is directly connected to Kyoto Station, is a treasure-trove of popular souvenir gifts. This article will share five such popular souvenirs beloved for their particularly Japanese flavors and designs.
Connected directly to the train station! The convenience of JR Kyoto Isetan
From desserts and deli food to fresh produce and liquor, Japanese department stores carry a huge variety of Japanese and international products in every category related to food. The basement floors where these are sold are called "depa-chika" and are known to be places to find choice high-quality products. By being connected directly to Kyoto Station, the largest terminal station in all of Kyoto, JR Kyoto Isetan has a premium location as well as two basement floors of food products—the only department store with two food floors in the city. Here shoppers can find high-quality products created in pursuit of true deliciousness, from new brands to brands that can't be bought anywhere else, developed by both traditional Kyoto shops and famous companies. Since JR Kyoto Isetan enjoys great popularity with both local residents and tourists alike, we asked foreign visitors about the most popular items to bring back as gifts and souvenirs!
"Kinu-no-sa" chocolate cakes from Nihon Chaka SANOAH
One recommended souvenir from among the fragrant Japanese green tea sweets at Nihon Chaka SANOAH is their Kinu-no-sa. These chocolate cakes, baked with Japanese green tea added to French chocolate, have a distinctive moist texture and rich tea flavor that will fill your mouth with each bite. There are several varieties of Japanese tea, three of which are used in Kinu-no-sa—matcha green tea, hojicha roasted green tea, and sencha green tea—so you can enjoy the different aromas of each. Kinu-no-sa products are only sold at the Shinjuku, Urawa, and JR Kyoto Isetan department stores, so their exclusiveness is another appeal of these sweets.
People will also love the stylish yet simple Japanese design of the package. The cakes can be stored at room temperature and have a long shelf-life, so they make great souvenirs for those traveling from afar.
"Hime Senju-Senbei" cookies from Kogetsu
Kyoto confectionary Kogetsu's Senju-Senbei are beloved treats among Kyoto residents, common both as gifts and everyday snacks. The sweet cookies have a distinctively wavy shape. Their recipe is adjusted according to the season and they always come out crisp. Sandwiched between the cookies is a sweet sugar cream filling. The crunchy texture of the cookies and the light and fluffy cream complement each other perfectly. The Hime Senju-Senbei are smaller than regular Senju-Senbei, making them easy-to-eat, bite-sized cookies.
These cookies, made with organic matcha tea, are sure to be well-received as classy gifts reminiscent of Kyoto. Another great feature is the fact that they can be stored at room temperature, have a long shelf-life, and are also light and easy to carry.
"Richness Matcha Maiko Box" macadamia nut sweets from Kindal
Kindal Kindal KYOTO is a macadamia nut shop. The shop's top-selling product, the Richness Matcha Maiko Box, uses Kyoto-grown matcha tea. Tencha tea leaves are grown in the shade and picked early, then carefully stone-ground into a powder and used plentifully in the macadamia nut sweets, so consumers can fully enjoy the scent and flavor of the tea. The matcha brings out the rich, creaminess of the macadamia nuts, creating an exquisite harmony of flavors. The packaging is also beautiful, with an illustration of a Kyoto apprentice geisha (maiko) in the center, making these the perfect gift. These special, exclusive souvenirs can only be bought at JR Kyoto Isetan.
The "Colorful Assortment" of mille-feuille cakes from Tissage Kyoto
Tissage Kyoto is a confectionary that makes buttery and flavorful sweets. The layered mille-feuille sweets, representing one-thousand tree leaves, are made with a carefully and repeatedly folded thin pie crust which is then baked and covered with a chocolate coating. The key to the cute, bite-sized cubes' popularity is their superb crispness and chocolatey flavor. The Colorful Assortment is a collection including the five most popular flavors, three of which are azuki bean, Uji matcha, and sweet potato.
The elegant wrapping with its design reminiscent of kimono cloth was created by Aya Kato, an illustrator whose work is used worldwide. The mille-feuille's refined taste and graceful Japanese packaging communicate imagery of Kyoto, the ancient capital city of Japan.
"Tamanohikari Junmai Ginjo Iwai" sake from Tamanohikari Sake Brewing Company
In the liquor section of JR Kyoto Isetan, you can find an overwhelming selection of options, especially when it comes to sake. There is sake from over 120 breweries, including every brewery in Kyoto, so you can pick out the sake that perfectly matches your preferences. One highly recommended sake is Tamanohikari Junmai Ginjo Iwai, highly polished pure-rice sake from the Tamanohikari Sake Brewing Company in Fushimi. This premium sake uses 100% Iwai brand sake rice, grown only in Kyoto. The 60% polished rice is hand-brewed, retaining the faint sweetness and light aroma unique to Iwai rice. The Kyoto-style Japanese motif on the bottle and auspicious Iwai (celebration) name also make it an excellent gift. Also popular in the liquor area, you can enjoy the pairing of food and sake together at Sake no TASHINAMI, or the paid tastings at their Wine Cellar and Liquor Bar.
More discounts and useful services for foreign visitors
By showing your passport at the JR Kyoto Isetan duty-free counter, you can receive a guest card that will give you a 5% discount on all purchases (some brand and other restrictions apply). Be sure to stop by the duty-free counter before you begin your shopping. Store-wide free Wi-Fi and currency exchange machines are also available.
With the convenience of being directly connected to Kyoto Station, enjoy a fun shopping experience at JR Kyoto Isetan.
JR Kyoto Isetanジェイアール京都伊勢丹
- Address Higashishiokoji-cho, Shiokoji-sagaru Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto, 600-8555
directly connected to JR, Kintetsu, and Kyoto Municipal Subway "Kyoto" Station
Telephone: 075-352-1111 (automated menu)
Operating hours: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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