Korea Town @ Shin-Ōkubo

In Tokyo, there is a line called Yamanote Line (山手線) which runs on the loop, like the Circle Line of the London Underground, connecting city’s major stations. The train which runs clockwise is called Soto-mawari (外回り) and the one goes counterclockwise is Uchi-mawari (内回り)…

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After Ueno, mum and I headed to our next destination, Shin-Ōkubo which was 11 stops away from Ueno via Uchi-mawari Yamanote Line…

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Shin-Ōkubo had been known for its extensive Korean community. However, what made Shin-Ōkubo famous nationwide was a Korean boom (韓流ブーム) which was ignited by a series of daily soap opera, “Futu No Sonata” – Sonnet of Winter, affectionately known as “Fuyusona”. The craze for the drama spread like wildfire through Japanese middle-age female viewers when it was aired by the Japanese national TV, NHK, in 2003. Even my mum, who was normally sceptical towards any hype, was swept up by the fever and became an ardent fan. She even offered to lend me a stack of VHS tapes to watch – the offer I politely declined by pointing out that I had no VHS player.

We didn’t know what to expect, however, we did notice there were a lot more women than men around the station…

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A signboard with an arrow by the station indicated that we should walk along Ōkubo-dōri (大久保通り)…

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This shop was a full of posters, CD, DVD, charms & straps for mobile phones of Korean pop stars. I didn’t know any of them but they were all very good-looking…

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Also a large flat-screen TV across the street, was showing a Korean boyband performing an impeccably syncronized dance routine…

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And another shop with Korean show-biz merchandise…

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Apart from the shops dedicated for the Korean show-biz scene, both sides of the street accommodated numerous beauty shops exclusively stocking Korean cosmetic products…

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Allegedly, snail-slime is the next best thing if you are not into Botox…

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Mum and I wanted to try some BB creams but didn’t know what to choose. After wandering and peeping through shop windows for a while, we decided to pay a visit to this shop…

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Shelves were laden with all sorts of serums, lotions and creams. I had no idea what they were & what they were for…

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A smiley Korean staff with a baby-smooth skin helped us to navigate through a sea of samples and eventually, I bought 2 boxes of vitamin C serum and a compact with BB cream & SPF50 sunscreen.

After finishing shopping, we sauntered along Ōkubo-dōri westwards.
There were Korean restaurants with large menu boards displayed outside, trying to entice hungry passers-by…

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I wished if we visited the street around dinner time! We were still full with Omuraisu at Ueno.
What a shame it was…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

8 thoughts on “Korea Town @ Shin-Ōkubo

  1. Thinking of Korean food is there a Japanese equivalent to Kimchi (their pickled cabbage)? I love it, but a Korean lady I knew told me that I wouldn’t be able to make it myself as each family has their own secret recipe. Fascinated by the hit TV soap. Bit like Australian soaps with the British in the late 1980s.

    • Yes, pickling vegetables is definitely a very oriental thing. Even my mum had her own pickling pot for Nukazuke. She’s stopped doing it now because the content of pot has to be turned daily and its not convenient when she goes to holiday. Kimchi is made with Chinese cabbage and I am not surprised if the recipe differs family to family. In Shin-Ōkubo, there were a few Korean supermarkets and they were selling kimchi by grams. Unfortunately, we were visiting afterward so didn’t buy any. I must visit New Malden sometimes since there is the Korean community and therefore a good kimchi! 😍

  2. My wife would love to have a Korean town here (for the food, of course), I haven’t seen a VHS tape in a long while. Would love to have a player and watch old movies they way I watched them before.

    • I would love to have Korea Town in London too! Not only for the food but also for their make-up and skin care products!
      My mum doesn’t throw away much. I think she would have kept an original Beta video player if I didn’t insisting to let it go… 😱

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