If you check through my last few updates, you might get the impression that Shibuya is my favourite spot.
But actually, no, it’s not.
It’s Shin-Okubo, which I love more than Omotesando, more than Harajuku and definitely more than Shibuya.
I went there for the first time in August 2012, just a few weeks after I came to Japan. At that time I had no interest in k-pop or even Korean food whatsoever, but there was one reason I would go there every week, and her name is Akane. She’s my lovely friend who at that time was staying in Kokuritsu International Medical Research Center Hospital which just so happens to be located in Okubo. Every week, until the end of March 2013 when she went back to her hometown, I visited her there, and that’s how it all started. Akane battled leukemia, but she’s a happy, healthy girl now. It’s a long long story, and I hope to write about it more one day. Today I want to show you the town that gave me more happy memories than any other place I have been to so far.
As I came here every week, I started checking out the shops, eating delicious japchae in the lunchtime, SoundHounding awesome k-pop songs I heard for the first time…and before I realized it, I was totally in love with everything about this town.
Shin-Okubo, Korean Town.
Now that I’m k-pop / Korean food / Korean cosmetics obsessed, Shin-Okubo is like heaven to me. It’s like Little Korea in Tokyo. When you get off at Shin-Okubo station, you see posters advertising new Korean dramas or makgeolli rather than Asahi or some TBS drama with Kimura Takuya.
With all the idol shops, it’s a k-pop fan paradise. Whoever your bias is, whichever CD you’re looking for – everything is here.
♥ I swear this place will make me go bankrupt one day ♥
Last time I went there, each store was full of Tohoshinki. As it turned out, it was the day their Japan Live Tour began. Can’t complain, before the YG Family Concert it was full of BIGBANG accessories, so I guess it’s just what store owners do to keep each fandom group happy.
Besides, the guys from Tohoshinki are drop-dead gorgeous so it’s all good.
Countless cosmetics & k-pop accessories shops↓
I really recommend this store. They have a supermarket on the first floor with cosmetics, super spicy instant ramen, kimchi, seaweed, makgeolli, kimbap, all the yummy stuff and some handsome store assistants… Second floor: more cosmetics, brands like Missha, Etude House, 3 Concept Eyes, Skin Food, cute hair accessories and more handsome store assistants. Third floor: Korean fashion, shoes, watches, accessories, stationery and pretty female store assistants for a change. Everyone can find something here that appeals to them.
If you’re used to Japanese customer service style, Shin-Okubo might surprise you. Japanese store assistants must smile all the time, they keep distance from you, don’t really talk to you until you seem interested in an item. It’s completely different here…store asisstants will follow you around the store putting you under pressure to buy something, they will grab your hand and put some cream on it, asking you to smell it “Smells beautiful? Yeah? You like it? Buy it then”. When I wear clothes showing my tattoos, most of shop staff members ask me about them, they touch them (without asking me first actually, but it’s friendly — not creepy), one woman just grabbed my arm with both her hands and was rubbing my arm tattoo for like 2 minutes saying “oh so cuuuute” *rub rub*. I don’t mind. Also, unlike Japanese store assistants who will smile and compliment you no matter what, Korean shop staff is more likely to show what they really think.
That reminds me of one conversation I had with a female store assistant:
Store Assistant: What cosmetics brand do you use?
Me: Mainly Missha.
/5 minutes later/
Me: *talking with my friend, commenting on a BIGBANG poster*
SA: Do you like BIGBANG?
Me: Like? We love them!
This guy though! My friend and I passed his little stall with some sweets a few times, and each time he tried to get our attention, so I thought it could be fun to talk to him and ask him for a photo. I really wish I could buy one box of that thing, but unfortunately I don’t really eat sweet stuff (yes, my friends already called me a freak a million times).
He was a super funny guy though, so if you see this little stall with cute looking pastel cookies or whatever that is, get some of that sweet goodness
If you love Korean food as much as I do, you will never want to leave… Supermarkets with delicious stuff straight from Korea, and lots of awesome restaurants playing awesome music.
↓My lovely friend Madoka buying a corn tea supply for a few months
I have so many good memories connected to this place , it will always have a sincerely special place in my heart. It’s a must go if you love k-pop, Korean food, Korean cosmetics, Korean anything. And well, if you don’t…it’s a fun place to hang out anyway!
Thanks for reading! ♥
That funny guy: Let’s take one more photo, c’mon
TFG: Love love moooooode!!!♥ (ラブラブモード！！！）