There is no difference, but I do think Sogo is the preferred department store for the occasional shopping expedition and "zeitaku" lunch jaunt here. Zeitaku in English means luxurious. Here in Japan Jukujo enjoy hanging out in packs and dining at fancy lunch spots that were either featured in food magazines or television programs. Japanese department stores do not play elevator music in their stores. There are some rare occasions though, but most often the sound is drowned out by cash registers and chatty grannies. Thank goodness. In Japan you can see elevator hostesses dressed up in pastel suits standing by with smiles ready to take you up or down. American department stores are less warm and less attentive.
American department stores have food courts whereas Japanese department stores have three and sometimes four star restaurants on the top floor. American department stores offer and advertise rebates, discounts, and blue light specials at competitive prices. Here in Japan, you don't get such adverts, instead you can pick up a free paper on the way in to the department. In Japan items are already discounted so there're no coupon clippings necessary.
Here is the reason why I go:
|Mt. Eggplants and vegetable packed full of shrimp, tomatoes and greens.|
|Imagawayaki - a custard or bean paste pie. This treat is called different things depending on where you live.|
|Honey Melon cakes and tarts; Tangerine tart in the back.|
|Tangerine and Honey fruit cocktail|
|Japanese confectionary at its finest. Changes according to the seasons. A true tangible cultural heritage.|
|Mackerel wrapped over Oregano paste and shiitake, baked.|
Sogo is not cheap. Many food items are high quality and are made domestically. The only reason I don't shop here everyday is because it's too far from my house, so often times I just settle for convenience store food, or eat out somewhere. The Japanese create and display their wares and foodstuffs so colorfully, and in such a way that you feel that you must buy it.
American food courts have some good offerings too, but not displayed in such a way. And many of the choices are rather uninteresting. In Japan it like a paradise of food, like something out of a Disney movie. I love to come through here when I have free time on the weekends.
Things to remember though:
When you buy food here it will usually be cold and you will not have anywhere to sit down to eat. Everything is to go, so don't expect to just start eating most food right away. Take it home and heat it up.