|An entrance to the Tsuruhashi cavern of Korean goods.|
Koreans in Japan - even families who have lived here for generations - have been faced with a kind of contradictory discrimination regarding their ethnic status. On the one hand, the Japanese government has tried to assimilate Koreans into Japanese society, by encouraging to take Japanese names, making them pay taxes, and forcing them to speak Japanese. On the other hand, it has been ensured that Koreans will never become fully integrated into Japanese society. Until recently, zainichi Koreans, including those born in Japan, were required to provide fingerprints and carry an Alien Registration card, like any other foreigner.
Korea Towns such as Tsuruhashi are important, as they represent a place where Korean culture - which, like it or not, is undeniably a part of Japan's history and larger culture - can be unabashedly displayed and celebrated. Though you may be surprised at how relatively un-Korean looking and sounding Tsuruhashi is. Almost all of the shop names are in Japanese, and shopkeepers will speak to you in perfect Kansai-ben. Japan is, after, their home.
|A rare glimpse of Hangul, Korean script|
|Cross cultural... kimchi stored in Kirin refrigerator|
|Assortment of spicy Korean ingredients|
|Dark, covered arcade of Tsuruhashi|
|Abandoned (?) house just outside the shopping area|
|Beautiful Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) store.|
|Piles of fabric everywhere.|
|The longest noodles you will ever eat.|
New York Times article
Japan Focus article
SPICE paper - 'Koreans in Japan'
Japan Times Blog on Korean Boom