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:

新大久保駅周辺はコリアンタウンから多国籍な街へと変化していました。大久保地区は現在、全体の3割を占める1万2000人以上の外国人が暮らしていて、年々、多国籍化が進んでいるといいます。3カ月ほど前にオープンしたという、バングラデシュからやって来たジェローム・ゴメスさんの店は「アジア中全部の国のものは置けないから、大体ここに住んでいて買い物に来る人、ベトナムとタイのものが多い」といいます。中には「インドで今、すごくはやっているヒルサ(という名前の魚)」も並びます。ここは元々、携帯電話などを扱う店でしたが、新大久保の多国籍化に目をつけ、さまざまな国の食材を扱う店にリニューアルしたということです。店長のゴメスさんは「ここを私は日本だと思っていません。一日中、外国人ばっかり」と笑います。

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:

20歳前後に限ると比率はさらに高まる。2018年の東京23区の新成人約8万3000人のうち、外国人は約1万800人で8人に1人。中でも新宿区は新成人の45.8%が外国人で、成人式のくす玉には日本語のほかにハングルと英語を併記したという。豊島区も新成人の38.3%を外国人が占めた。局所的にはさらに顕著で、大久保1丁目は20歳の87%、池袋2丁目は79%が外国人である。

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.