Tokyo's Korea Town: Shin-Okubo


If you go to certain areas in Japan, you can find melting pots of culture. Shin-Okubo is one of those areas, known to be Japan’s Korea town. 
Shin-Okubo used to be much more bustling with people and business, but a few years back, many businesses shut down because of Japanese-Korean stigma and the protests that would go on. However, in recent years with the Korean boom (“Hallyu” or “Hanyu”), Shin-Okubo is regaining business and visitors. I believe this is a great opportunity to show Shin-Okubo your support by checking it out!

Here you’ll find many Korean-owned, small businesses and shops, being a Mecca for any fans of Korean culture, food, K-pop, and K-beauty. Even if you aren’t interested in these things, I would still recommend Shin-Okubo for anyone visiting Tokyo! Here are some things you’ll find here:
Popular Culture (K-pop and K-drama)
If you are interested in Korean popular cultures like K-pop, K-drama, and popular actors, Shin-Okubo has a good amount of idol shops, selling fan merchandise for popular groups and stars, like EXO, BTS, Twice, Big Bang, and so much more. Any shop you walk into, K-Pop is always on in the background, sometimes displayed on monitors. What’s more is that the prices are usually very reasonable - you can find things for 100 to 300 JPY if you look or it! There are also K-Pop-themed cafes usually located on upper floors of K-Pop shops. If you’re looking for some K-Pop merchandise, chances are, you’ll find it here. Some stores and Idol Park, Feel Korea, the K-Plazas, and Star Shop.
(Idol Park store near Shin-Okubo JR station. Image Source: 
thesoulofjapan.blogspot.com)
Cosmetics and Skincare
You’ll find a lot of Korean cosmetics just about wherever you walk in Shin-Okubo. As well as pop culture, Korea is well-known for its cosmetics and skincare, which Shin-Okubo has a lot of. You can find stores like Skin Garden, Skin Holic, Tony Moly, and many other small beauty stores. Even the supermarkets here sell skincare. Usually, the prices are relatively cheaper here, and the selection is pretty wide. Popular brands like Etude House, Skinfood, Tony Moly, Peripera, Missha, Innisfree, and The Face Shop are sold pretty extensively. A popular item for souvenirs and for those who are trying Korean products for the first time is the sheet mask. You can find amazing deals on these, where sometimes you can get thirty for 1000 JPY (about 10 USD). 
(Skincare stores in the main street of Shin-Okubo. Image Source:

Food
Shin-Okubo is filled with many Korean food stands, restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores. You can enjoy things Korean barbecue, bibimbap, Korean pancake, and kimchi. You can also find cute cafes (some K-pop-themed) on the upper floors of shops. The Korean grocery stores are perfect if you’d like to bring Korean food back home! Food stands sell Korean street food for very reasonable prices, and lately, Jonno Hotok is a food stall stand that has been blowing up.
Hotok is a type of Korean pancake you can order in sweet or savory, and they prepare in front of you at their food stand. Usually, it is only 200 or 300 JPY each, and it’s a great snack to have after you look around the streets! Try to check it out if you have the chance.
(Jonno Hotok stand in Shin-Okubo. Image Source:

The reason why I recommend Shin-Okubo is because of the culture you get to experience. Korea town is like a little piece of Korea placed in Tokyo. It's really easy to access, just one stop away from Shinjuku on the JR Yamanote Line. If you wanted, you can walk back and to Shin-Okubo from Shinjuku - they're pretty close. I find here to be a great place to buy gifts for my friends back in the states (who are really into K-Pop), and a great place to find select Korean goods. Please visit if you have the chance!

Reona Sasaki