Exploring Japan’s Korea Town, Shin Okubo

Marisa Lewis
December 30, 2013

This is a colorful street view of Shin Okubo!

I recently took a trip to Shin Okubo, which is known as Japan’s Korea Town. If you walk along its streets, you will see many Korean restaurants, as well as Korean pop music idols everywhere!! Being a K-pop fan myself, it was a lot of fun to look at all the different merchandise. Clothing, videos of music performances, and even magnets of band members’ faces were on sale in many stores. Korean cosmetics were also easy to find!

Work-goers crossing the street in Shin Okubo.

But I digress. The main reason I went to Shin Okubo was to help my friend find a place where still-moving octopus could be eaten. Apparently this is a Korean delicacy! The octopus is dead, but its leg muscles still move for quite a while afterwards. We went off in search of such a restaurant. On the way, I got to take pictures of the people I passed. People are often so caught up in the day’s hustle and bustle that they don’t notice you taking their picture, and because of that I was able to snag a few great moments.

Muslim workers who stopped to talk to us on the street.

We passed some areas where ethnic food other than Korean food was being sold. I found this interesting, because you don’t usually see a lot of diversity in the actual residents of Tokyo! We passed stores selling South Asian cooking ingredients, and we also passed what looked to be like the homes of several Muslims, Thais, and Vietnamese. Groups of people would hang around outside casually, speaking in various Southeast Asian languages. I found myself excited by this — this is what I was more used to living in the United States.

Entranced viewers of a Korean Pop concert video!

I tried to photograph as much of the diversity as I could, but I also tried to photograph the main part of Shin Okubo — that is, the emphasis on Korean products. This photo to the right shows a group of women who stopped on the side of the street to watch a concert performance being broadcasted on a store television. They were entranced, as was I! I find Korean pop songs to be catchy and their members to be attractive, so it was fun for me to stop and share this moment.

Children playing on an empty street.

After passing these women, I walked a little further down the street. By this point in time, we had found a restaurant to eat in. I was just continuously taking pictures of people I found interesting! The little alleyways of Shin Okubo are a little empty and pretty quiet, almost giving a feeling of a ghost town. It was eerie! But then, I saw some children playing, and was reminded of life.

Nightfall approaches in Shin Okubo!

As the sun began to set, I found myself happily reflecting on the diversity I had seen, and on the many fun and interesting sights that Shin Okubo had to offer. I would love to visit again someday!

Marisa Lewis

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Marisa Lewis, and I am an East Asian International Relations Major/East Asian Studies Minor at the University of Virginia. I&rsquo;m originally from Alexandria, Virginia (though I&rsquo;ve got a lot of family in Thailand as well) and am super excited to be traveling to Japan! I&rsquo;ve only ever been to the Japanese airport before &ndash; their toilets are awesome, by the way &ndash; and have always wanted to experience Japanese culture ever since I first started watching Pokémon as a kid. Don&rsquo;t lie. You watched it, too! In my spare time I love to read, write short stories, bake, listen to music, and have adventures. I am looking forward to making new friends, stocking up on Japanese sweets, and experiencing all that Japan has to offer! But more importantly, stocking up on Japanese sweets. Where my mochi at?</span></p>

2013 Fall
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International Relations
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