Okubo Koreatown 新大久保コリアンタウン
Kimchi flavor Tokyo
Close to Kabuki-cho in Shinjuku, Shin-Okubo Koreatown is the largest quarter in Tokyo. It is now taken over by restaurants and K-Pop stores.
Of the 80 000 Koreans in the capital, more than 12 000 have taken up residence in the Shin-Okubo district. Right out of the metro of the same name you cannot be mistaken: exit the kanji, here everything is written in Hangeul (the Korean alphabet).
Unlike its cousin Osaka, Tsuruhashi, Tokyo Koreatown was formed in the 1980s, a period when Japan opened its doors to many students on academic exchanges.
The area soon saw the appearance of peninsular restaurants and grocery stores. Kimbap, bulgogi as well as bibimbap, here you will find here all the wonders offered by Korean cuisine. In Shin-Okubo, the Korean barbecue is the key featured in the restaurants: Tomato, Hankuh, Pungumu... You will be spoiled for choice.
From the 2000s, the growing Japanese interest in Korean pop culture - reflected by the increase in the export of drama and K-pop (Korean pop) - has certainly contributed to the development of the district. A haunt for K-pop fans, the long Shin-Okubo dori street is invaded by huge posters of the most popular idoru (Japanese cinema or TV idols).
In specialist stores you can find all kinds merchandised products bearing the image of the latest boy band in vogue, such as Korean Grand Park, a real supermarket dedicated to Korean pop culture. It is also a good place to find bookstores, to practice singing in Korean in one of the many karaoke bars in the neighborhood, or to experience low cost Tokyo: here bars, restaurants, and guest-houses (minbak in Korean) are significantly cheaper than elsewhere in the capital.