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Every day while I was in Japan, I went from one amazing place to another amazing place. Whether it was a shrine, temple, castle, park or in this case a department store.

My first experience with the Japanese department stores was in Tokyo. After a long day out exploring we were happy to have a snack in our hotel room rather than go out to dinner. This is when we discovered the food hall in the department store close by to our hotel. We bought some amazing freshly prepared meals to take away. The selection is vast and the food is interesting and so beautifully prepared and presented. It would be quite easy to buy these meals on a regular basis and in fact I would not be surprised if this is a regular way of eating in Japan. These meals are unlike the prepared packaged meals that we can buy here in Australia.

As we travelled through Japan we realised that these fabulous food halls in the department stores are in all the big cities.

While we were staying in Osaka we went to the underground to the Osaka Train station many times. The elevator in our hotel went directly down to the underground making it ever so easy. There were hundreds of shops and restaurants in this area and this is where I discovered Hanshin Department Store.

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Hanshin Department Store is best known for the incredible variety of food and drink available in the basement food hall.

I thoroughly enjoyed walking around enjoying the colour and bustle and nibbling or sipping the free samples. Viewing all the Japanese sweets, pickled vegetables, assorted tea varieties, and beautifully packaged bento box lunches gave me a short education in Japanese cuisine. There are also bakeries selling delicate cakes and pastries and popular snack stores selling rice crackers with various savoury flavours. Particularly well-known are the “ikayaki” squid pancakes, an Osaka specialty something like a crepe.

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This entire floor offers delectable delights including coffees, teas, pastries, candies, chocolates, pickles, sushi and world class, flawlessly perfect, fresh fruit and even smoothies. And, so much more.

In the drinks section I found a range of local sake rice wine, shochuspirits, Western style wines and spirits, and a pretty good selection of regional craft beers.

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Here in this food hall you will find a wide variety of food and drink, all of which is impeccably packaged and displayed. This is where I purchased several of my gifts to take back to Australia including some pretty amazing coffee.

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Of course there are many other departments in this wonderful store but it was the colourful, interesting and exciting food hall that won my attention.

The Japanese understand quality and this store is no exception, it is upscale, impeccably clean and well staffed. Nobody speaks English and that isn’t a problem at all. Courteous service is the rule.