The changing faces of Shin-Okubo

Shin-Okubo is no longer Tokyo’s predominant Koreatown. (Has it ever been?) It’s now a thriving community of immigrants (cf expatriates) from all over the world. From a recent Tokyo MX broadcast:


The area around Shin-Okubo station is turning from a Koreatown into a multinational [multiethnic] community. Over 12,000 gaikokujin comprising 30 percent of the area’s population live in the Shin-Okubo area, and each year Shin-Okubo becomes more and more multiethnic. “I can’t put things in my shop from every country in Central Asia. Most people who live here and come to shop are Vietnamese or Thai,” says Jerome Gomesu [katakana transliteration], who comes from Bangladesh and opened a shop here around three months ago. The shop even sells a fish called Ilish, “which is really popular in India right now.” This location was originally a shop that sold mobile phones, but as Shin-Okubo becomes multiethnic, many places are transforming into shops that deal with foods from various countries around the world. “This here doesn’t feel like Japan to me. I see only gaikokujin all day,” Gomesu laughs.

And according to this article, the population of Aomi-2-chome near Odaiba is over 75 percent gaikokujin, and the number of gaikokujin in Tokyo keeps growing year by year:


Looking at those around age 20, the proportion [of gaikokujin] is even higher. Of the 83,000 people who turned 20 [shinseijin] inside Tokyo’s 23 wards in 2018, one out of eight or 10,800 were gaikokujin. In Shinjuku, 45.8 percent of people who turned 20 this year were gaikokujin, and it was said that the kusudama was written in Korean hangul and Japanese as well as English. In Toshima, 38.3 percent of people who turned 20 this year were gaikokujin. More remarkable areas were Okubo-1-chome, where the proportion was 87 percent, and Ikebukuro-2-chome, where it was 79 percent.