Tokyo Guide: Okubo
Tokyo Area Guide: Okubo 大久保
Okubo, an area in Shinjuku ward, is Tokyo's most famous Korean town, and is home to sizable Chinese, South-East Asian, and Indian communities, too.
The area loosely known as Okubo area occupies two ward sub-districts: Okubo and Hyakunincho.
From its pre-war status as a nest of opulence (much like present day Azabu), after the Pacific War, it emerged from the ruins as home to the Korean community created by Japan's colonization of Korea.
The main street, Okubo-dori Avenue, running through the Hyakunincho sub-district, is colorfully lined with Korean and, to a lesser extent, Chinese, shops, restaurants, and grocers. Bibimba, yakiniku (i.e. Korean barbecue), kimchi, hangwa, pa jun, soju - it's all there in Okubo, as well as all you might need for Korean cooking.
Christian churches are plentiful in Okubo due to the large number of Korean Christians, who actually attend every Sunday rather than just have their wedding there.
The biggest temple in Okubo is Kinryuji (The Temple of the Golden Dragon), just 200m east from Shin-Okubo Station on Okubo-dori Avenue. Its entrance is traditionally picturesque, but the bland contemporary construction of the temple itself makes it hardly worth going in.
The lower rents for land in Okubo also means it has many love hotels.
Half a kilometer north of Okubo-dori Avenue, accessible by Meiji-dori Avenue, which intersects it, is the famous Waseda University, where the famous Japanophile Lafcadio Hearn held his last teaching post.
Waseda University was founded by the Meiji-era reformer and prime minister Okuma Shigenobu in 1882. Waseda's campus contains the fine Okuma Garden, the grounds of the daimyo Matsudaira Sanuki's former mansion, which were redesigned by Okuma and donated to the university on his death. The Aizu Museum on campus can also be visited.
Just east of Waseda University campus at the intersection of Waseda-dori and Natsumezaka is a stone monument marking the birthplace of the famous Japanese author, Soseki Natsume (1867-1916), whose face featured on the 1000 yen bill between 1984 and 2004.
Two train lines serve Okubo: the JR Yamanote Line, with Shin-Okubo Station, and the Chuo-Sobu line, with Okubo Station - both only one stop away from Shinjuku station, and only 200 meters from each other.
The Okuma Auditorium clock tower is a symbol of Waseda University
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