Okubo is Tokyo’s main Koreatown and one of the very few large immigrant enclaves in the entire country. It’s a downtown area around two very busy railway stations, a little world to itself where people of Korean ancestry lived, worked, shopped, dined and enjoyed themselves in the postwar decades. This was the only place in Tokyo where you saw Korean words and Korean names publically displayed on doors and windows, or heard the language on the street. For many years, it was disreputable, all the more so as it overlapped with a red-light district. Since the 2002 World Cup and the Korean Wave, however, Okubo has become hip, especially among young women attracted by stores selling merchandise connected with Korean pop-stars and TV dramas.
In the middle of the commercial area, halfway up a small office block, is the Arirang centre, which houses a small library, office and Korean cultural exhibitions. Few visit it, as it is hard to find and barely big enough to hold more than 12 people at a time anyway. But I had long found it a useful resource. When I go back to Tokyo, I often drop by this place, to ask what is new in the Korean community.