You read that right. There’s a K-town in Tokyo and it’s just like visiting Korea. Everything from the food, shopping and atmosphere – it’s just like walking over the border into Korea if you’re ever sick of ramen or sushi (God forbid). Japan’s Koreatown has K-Pop idol merchandise and K-Beauty galore. My idol merchandise buying days ended with the Backstreet Boys’ Black and Blue album so I had no interest in buying any more items with young boys embossed on them but I definitely wanted to check out the Korean beauty items and see how “Hallyu” has made its way into Japan’s city streets. I stuck to buying mostly Japanese beauty items on two week stay but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t curious about K-Beauty’s appearance on Japanese shelves.
Japan’s Koreatown is about a 15 minute walk from Shinjuku’s popular Robot Restaurant. Google maps will take you through local streets (you’ll see the back of local houses) but it’s the fastest way to get there on foot! The JR Shin-Okubo train stop is where you want to get off and you will need to walk under the bridge where there are murals along the wall. Once you see the first K-Pop store, IDOL PARK, you can keep walking along Okubo Dori.
There were two stand-out stores worth visiting, Mask Diary and Skin Garden! Mask Diary had Kakao items as well as a lot of recognizable road shop brands and on-trend products. Skin Garden is a two story behemoth and stocks OH-SO-MANY items. In general the mark-up is high so I didn’t buy anything except for a Korean “Hotteok”, or hot cake filled with savory cheese filling. Buying and shipping items via eBay or other online retailers like Jolse, RoseRoseShop or Vuty Design would have been cheaper than buying Korean beauty items in Japan and schlepping it back via luggage. This makes sense because there are Korean import taxes in Japan. When in Japan, stick to buying Japanese beauty products but this was a great little escape to see Koreatown in Tokyo! Let me know down in the comments how you liked seeing Japan’s Ktown!