Tokyo’s Koreatown: 10 Things to Do in Shinokubo!

shinokubo Food & Drinks

Whether you have already explored a lot of Tokyo or are just planning your first trip there, there is something that we think you should know about. Nestled in the heart of Tokyo near Shinjuku area,  Shinokubo is a unique neighborhood which is widely recognized as “Tokyo’s Koreatown”. For the past few decades, it has experienced rapid growth along with the spread of popularity in Korean culture, food and entertainment across Japan. Visiting Shinokubo will surely be an unforgettable experience that you can only have here in Japan. Here is a guide of the 10 best things that you can’t miss in Shinokubo!      

1. Street Food

Korea boasts a unique food culture which is totally different from other countries. The Shinokubo area is home to numerous Korean restaurants and dining spots which offer a variety of reasonable food and drink options that suit anyones budget. It is about a 5-minute walk from JR Shinokubo station to Ariran Hotdog where you can try their addictive Korean-style hot dog. It generally contains the popular ingredient cheese, as well as a variety of other toppings such as deep-fried crispy potato crumbs or sugar. If you want to try Korean sweets, Maca Presso is a must-visit shop which sells visually attractive colorful Korean-style macarons. Popo Hottoku is another popular shop among young people that sells Hottoku, traditional Korean pancakes filled with honey, cinnamon, anko (sweet red bean paste) or cheese occasionally with some nuts which add an extra crunchy texture!      

2. Korean Fashion

As you walk around the Shinokubo area, you will find countless numbers of Korean fashion shops and boutiques. LABELLE is a popular Korean fashion shop with a large selection of original goods and items including casual clothes, shoes, bags and accessories which are directly imported from Korea. It is only about a 6-minute walk from JR Shinokubo station to STAR BOX where you can find an endless array of Korean clothing, accessories and cosmetics sold at affordable prices. PLAC is a newly-opened shop which boasts a great selection of casual and modern Korean fashion items that are in style and for any people of any age(mostly for women)!

3. Beauty Products

Korean people are often admired for their silky, beautiful skin. If you want to know the hidden secrets of their beauty, it might be worth trying Korean beauty products! Around the Shinokubo area, there are a number of beauty shops selling trendy cosmetics as well as hair and body care products which are popular among fashionable Korean girls with a high sense of beauty. Myeongdong Cosme and Skin Garden carry famous Korean cosmetic brands such as MISSHA and ETUDE HOUSE. It’s Skin is a popular Korean cosmetic brand whose first branch in Japan is in the Shinokubo area. Try their Power 10 Formula Series which provides the best solution to every type of skin problem from dry to sensitive skin. The Face Shop is a great option for those who love organic cosmetics featuring carefully-chosen natural ingredients!                            

4. Korean Barbeque

For lunch or dinner, try high-quality Korean barbeque in the Shinokubo area! Korean barbeque is quite similar to Japanese barbeque, widely known as “Yakiniku”. They are basically the same, but slightly different in the types of meat and ingredients that go into each meal. Korean barbecue mainly uses pork(called Samgyeopsal in Korean) which is relatively healthier than beef used for Yakiniku in Japan. Sangchu is Korean lettuce which is typically used to wrap the grilled pork instead of rice. (Rice is also served at many Korean barbeque restaurants in Shinokubo too!) At some Korean restaurants they also have unique side dishes such as Kimchi and Namul. Yopu-no Obuta Shioyaki and Tonchang are affordable, popular Korean barbeque spots perfect for first-timers(both of them are about a 3-minute walk from JR Shinokubo station)!       

5. Korean Supermarkets

If you want to enjoy Korean food and dishes at home, head to a Korean supermarket! Kankoku Hiroba is a popular supermarket which carries approximately 2,000 Korean foods, drinks and daily necessities. It is conveniently located about a 10-minute walk from JR Shinokubo station. Enjoy exploring endless arrays of Korean products including fresh meat, vegetables, seafood, rice, snacks and other traditional items directly imported from Korea. Kanryukan Seoul Ichiba is another must-visit which boasts an extraordinarily large selection of items including not only groceries but also cosmetics. Around the supermarket, there are also lively stalls and small shops serving a wide range of delicious treats and light meals such as Toppogi(spicy rice cakes), Chijimi(Korean pancakes) and Korean hotdogs!      

seoul ichiba shinokubo

6. Picturesque Cafes

Many people nowadays go to cafes not only to enjoy a peaceful time over coffee but also to take memorable pictures! Shinokubo is home to a number of wonderful cafes featuring a variety of colorful sweets and eye-catching decorations which are particularly popular among younger people. Visiting these cafes will give you the chance to take pictures to post on your social media account, or simply share with your friends! 2D Cafe is a unique cafe which is a short walk from JR Shinokubo station. Inside the cafe, everything from the tables and chairs to the walls, is uniformed in black and white. It makes you feel as if you wandered into a picture book fantasy! Seoul Cafe serves a refreshing shaved ice covered with layers of carefully trimmed ice. HOMIBING also offers a range of sweets such as waffles, shaved ice and drinks featuring fresh seasonal fruits!         

7. Korugi Massage

Korugi Massage is a traditional massage technique originated from Korea which helps you relieve muscle tension, increase metabolism, and keeps you looking younger! There are popular Korugi massage spots in the Shinokubo area. Head to Tamoa which is about a 5-minute walk from JR Shinokubo station. They are open 24 hours and offer professional massage services at affordable prices(Korugi massage 40 min/ ¥3,500). Kan-no Hogushi is famous for their refreshing massages given in a spacious private room, which is also popular among men(Korugi massage for the face 40 min/ ¥4,500)!        

8. Kaichu Inari Shrine 

If you want to visit historical spots around Shinokubo, Kaichu Inari Shrine is something you can’t miss! This small, peaceful shrine is conveniently located about a 2-minute walk from JR Shinokubo station. It was originally established in 1533 by a group of Samurai soldiers who served the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled the country from the early 17th century to the late 19th century. They believed that the god would bring them the skills of shooting better with a gun if they paid a visit to the shrine before they went to battle. Today, it is visited by numerous tourists as a popular spot which is believed to bring them good luck when it comes to money!       

9. Islam Yokocho

Islam Yokocho refers to a lively street in Shinokubo area which is packed with Islamic shops and restaurants. It is a loved and visited area where people of all cultures living in Tokyo can find great deals on ethnic ingredients which are essential for making traditional dishes. There are also great Muslim-friendly restaurants serving a variety of Halal dishes, the special food and products Muslims are allowed to eat based on the Islamic belief. Barahi Foods & Spice Center and Green Nasco are perfect spots for first-timers to check out their large selection of spices, condiments, frozen food, Halal-certified foods and other ethnic products sold in bulk. If you want something for lunch, try tasty Muslim dishes such as chicken biriyani and kebab at Nasco Food Court which can be found near the shop. The Jannat Halal Food Shop is relatively small, but boasts approximately 100 types of spices directly imported from India, Pakistan, Thailand and other countries!    

10. Other International Shops

With not only Korean and Muslim-friendly spots, Shinokubo is also home to a great number of multinational restaurants and shops that are easy to fall in love with! It is a heaven for foodies who want to try ethnic food and dishes from every corner of the world, especially from Asia and the Middle East, including China, Nepal, Vietnam, and Turkey to name a few! Baan Tum is a must-visit if you love Thai cuisine. Try authentic, but reasonable Vietnam dishes at Vietnam Pho, or enjoy Nepalese cuisine at MOMO. Hisar serves the best Turkish food in Tokyo while Horaishu is a perfect dining spot with a big Chinese menu available for affordable prices!

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency offering guided tours in Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we will organize the best tours for you! If you want to explore Japan to learn more histories and backstories of the area, our knowledgeable and friendly guide will happily take you to the best spots! 
Also, we can provide you with any assistance for your upcoming trip in Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions/need some help! 

Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo to try some local’s favorite street foods and sake with a friendly guide! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore the area than being with a knowledgeable guide. You can learn the history and background story of the town, and discover some hidden gems which can be difficult to find otherwise.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Tokyo Local Street Food and Drink Tour @Sunamachi
This food tour will take you to the lesser-known area of Tokyo, Sunamachi Ginza. We’re going to walk through the street and try some of the delicious local street foods including tempura, inari sushi, oden, and so on!

Sunamachi Ginza

Shinokubo is an amazing place for those who are into Korean culture, food, fashion or just want to experience a cool area of Tokyo. Spending even a single day there will allow you to discover a new area that is totally different from other famous tourist attractions in Tokyo. It will also enable you to feel the vibes of a Korean community without booking a flight to Korea!      

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Happy traveling!

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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with travelling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.

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