Tsuruhashi and its environs
Tsuruhashi in eastern Osaka, is a bit rundown and a bit long in the tooth--and not far from Japan's largest slum. However, it is well worth a trip. Like all of Japan it is safe and, better still, redolent of a different era.
Tsuruhashi is the center of Osaka's Korea Town, and it is well known for its many Korean restaurants, Korean shops, and Korean super markets.
You will know you have arrived by the smell of barbeque.
If you have a craving for kimchi or bulgogi or "designer" goods, this is the place for you.
Tsuruhashi Korea Town
The restaurants and shops in Tsuruhashi are mainly in small establishments lined up under the train tracks. Signs in hangul--and the ever present smell of meat, glorious meat--tells you you are in the right place.
The "zainichi kankokujin" (Koreans residing in Japan) who live in Osaka number roughly 200,0000, making them the largest concentration of the second largest ethnic minority in Japan after the Chinese.
Most are now third-, fourth-, or even fifth-generation. Their ancestors were more often than not forcibly brought into Japan as low-cost laborers in the 1920's and 1930's.
Many stayed on after the War as they no longer had the means to return to Korea, or just as likely there was nothing there for them to return to.
Another influx of Koreans also arrived in the 1950s from Jeju Island after a communist uprising there in 1948. Ko Yong-hui, the consort of Kim Jong-il and the mother of Kim Jong-un, was born in the area.
Although many "zainichi" have naturalized and taken Japanese citizenship, many choose not to, sending their children to Korean schools, keeping Korean names, and maintaining a non-Japanese identity.
The main reason to visit Tsuruhashi today is to feast and stroll. At night, touts stand in front of restaurants and call out to passersby.
Some menus in Tsuruhashi's Korean restaurants are in English.
Tsuruhashi Access - how to get to Tsuruhashi
Tsuruhashi Station is on the JR Osaka Loop Line, the Kintetsu Railways Nara and Osaka Lines, and the Sennichimae subway line.
Recommended Places To Stay: The Osaka Tokyu Inn
Located in Umeda, the center of Osaka, and within easy walking distance from JR Osaka Station. This is 15 minutes on the Osaka Loop Line from Tsuruhashi. Convenient for shopping, business and leisure.
Facilities at the The Osaka Tokyu Inn in Umeda include a 24-hour front desk; babysitting and child services; bar and two lounges; business center; car rental;
CNN and free movies; concierge; currency exchange; doctor on call; drugstore; florist; meeting and banquet facilities; free newspaper; nightly turndown; no smoking rooms and facilities;
free parking; five restaurants; room service from 7am to 2am; safe-deposit box; smoke and fire alarm system; souvenir shop; steam bath and massage; translation; travel desk; VIP rooms and services; wheelchairs and outdoor swimming pool (1 Jul-31 Aug).
Hiro's Guest House (Tel: 06 78976608) is a cheap place to stay in the heart of Tsuruhashi. Hiro's has dormitory accommodation and also Japanese-style rooms. Free WiFi.
Read more about Tsuruhashi Korea Town.