Kyoto’s Department Stores

April 14, 2008

by Ikuyo Hayashi
Treasuries of Mercantile Culture

The Japanese department store is a jewelry box of high quality goods! Visiting “depaato” in Kyoto will be one of your exciting cultural experiences in Japan. Looking through a Kyoto department store can seem like browsing through a museum of mercantile culture because you can see not only the quality clothes, but also traditional Japanese goods (including kimono), fine paintings, handcrafts and an assortment of fascinating foods. I will give you information about three major department stores in Kyoto: JR Kyoto Isetan, Daimaru Kyoto, and Kyoto Takashimaya.

Layout of the Floors

Generally, department stores have a similar floor plan for their goods. Here is the layout of JR Kyoto Isetan, located within the complex of JR Kyoto Station.




Stationery/ Promotional Area


Sportswear/ Beauty & Relaxing/Kimono/Jewelry/Watches


Interior Goods/ Bedding /Tableware/Tax Refund


Baby Clothing/ Children’s Clothing/Toys


Men’s Clothing & Accessories


Young Ladies’ Clothing/ Lingerie


Ladies’ Clothing/ Ladies’ Small Sizes


Ladies’ Designer Brand Clothing/ Ladies’ Large Sizes


Ladies’ Goods, Accessories & Cosmetics/Information Center


Exclusive Ladies’ Boutiques/ Information Center

1st basement

Food Market/ Confectionary/ Bakery/ Food Gifts


Fresh Food Market/ Daily Dishes

The other two department stores have similar layouts even though the size of their floors is different. As you can see, the depaato mainly targets women. The first floor is especially representative of the store, so almost all department stores place their overseas designers’ brands here, such as Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Gucci, and the like. Moreover, this is where they position cosmetics and women’s goods such as handkerchiefs, bags, shoes, so that women can access them without constraint. In this way they are not entirely different from Western department stores, but go downstairs just a floor or two, and instead of finding bargain-basement cheap clothing, you enter the magnificent world of Japan’s culinary culture.


“Depa-chika” means the basement floor of the department store. Countless foods bedazzle and puzzle you as to what to choose. Try some free samples!

Depa-chika can be divided roughly into four sections: food market, sweets, alcohol, and deli.

· The food market is similar to a grocery store, but these stores deal in expensive foods that are not available at a grocery store

· Sweets in the depa-chika are becoming the very symbol of high quality delicious confectionery. You can enjoy many kinds: Japanese sweets, cake, pudding, ice cream, etc. If you want to buy sweets as a gift, the depa-chika is the best place to choose from many varieties.



· Alcohol can be a nice gift for your friends. The liquor shop clerk in Daimaru Kyoto can tell you the differences in each sake, and advise you about which dishes each goes well with.

· The deli offers many kinds of hand-prepared Japanese foods, Chinese foods, and Western dishes. You can find out here what kinds of foods are eaten in Japanese homes. It is more reasonable to buy side dishes here and enjoy them in your room than to have a dinner at a restaurant! (But if you want a restaurant, there are plenty on the top floor.)


Department stores here offer wonderful services like those of a high-class hotel. To begin, there are beautiful young women at the information counter to welcome you. Sales clerks are well-mannered, too, so that you do not have to be scared of being pushed to buy goods. I strongly recommend you to use the spotless bathroom at a department store. Many of them also have a dressing table.

Whether you have small children or not, visit the children’s section for a look at the “baby salon”. This unique depaato facility, just for shoppers with infants, has curtained booths for breast-feeding, cribs for diaper-changing, and even a small cafeteria that serves only baby food!

Finally, here is a service list of the three department stores, and below that, access information for each store. Enjoy visiting the depaato of Kyoto!


JR Kyoto Isetan

Daimaru Kyoto


Borrowing wheelchair

Borrowing baby carriage

A room for feeding a baby

Playing area for children

Fitting room for women to change their own clothes

Proceeding tax exemption for the goods you purchased

○(more than \10,000, needs your passport)

Baggage room (including refrigeration)

Currency exchange


○(US$-\ up to $500; you need your passport)

Home-delivery service counter

Concierges for shopping

Access Information

JR Kyoto Isetan

access: west side of JR Kyoto Station

open:10 am - 8 pm

telephone:             075-352-1111

Daimaru Kyoto

access: 1 min. walk from Karasuma Station of Hankyu-line

2 min. walk from Shijo Station of Kyoto Subway

open: 10 pm - 8 pm

telephone:             075-211-8111 (English site)


access: beside Kawaramachi Station of Hankyu-line

5 mins. walk from Keihan-Shijo Station of Keihan-line

open: 10 pm - 8 pm

telephone:             075-221-8811


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