Ueno City, Tokyo – Welcome to Ueno City – home to the large and beautiful Ueno Park where many people go to enjoy picnics beneath the cherry blossom trees; Ueno Zoo, one of the most famous zoos in Japan – especially famous for their pandas; and last but not least… Korea Town!? Yup, you read right. Just as Yokohama is home to its famous China Town, Ueno is home to a small yet quaint area called Korea Town.
What’s in Korea Town?
While Korea Town is definitely not as large as Yokohama’s China Town, it does have a few things that may spark the interest of those in love with Korean cuisine. In Korea Town, you can find restaurants with both Japanese and Korean writing on its signs as well as some small supermarkets or vendors serving freshly made kimchi along with other Korean appetizers, small dishes, or ingredients. You can usually find them by just walking around the small area and looking for any bags displaying these things. They are usually sold by the gram or kilogram and tend to be a bit more authentic as they are hand-made. You can also find pre-made things in bottles; however, these tend to be a bit more on the expensive side.
Venturing into one store in particular, I found things like the well-known Shin Ramyun as well as its “Black” variant. I also found toppoki – which is basically a type of Korean mochi, and some other dried noodles. Some of the things I found were instant while others were meant to be ingredients for cooking. The section that I particularly found to be useful was the sauce section. There were many different types of ‘gochujang’ and other spicy sauces used to prepare various dishes including one meant specifically for preparing ‘yangnyeom chicken’. This dish can be found at quite a few Korean restaurants in Japan and seems to be quite popular due to its tangy and sweet flavor. Another sauce that one may find useful is a mix between ‘gochujang’ and ‘miso’. This sauce can be used for a variety of things, however, I’ve seen it most prevalently used as a dipping sauce for vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, or onions. Of course, there was also a section filled with freshly bagged kimchi, tengu, or other Korean appetizers.
Where is Korea Town?
So, when you hear the word ‘town’, you probably think of a large area, right? Or, you at least think of an area large enough to drive around, right? Well, Ueno City’s Korea Town is actually very small! It’s so small, that you could probably walk around it and see all of the shops within five minutes. This gem is also quite hidden from sight and it’s quite tricky to find in such a large metropolis as Tokyo. If you know where to look however, you’ll find it right away.
Ueno City’s Korea Town is located in the second city district of Higashi-Ueno. You can get here by taking the JR train or subway to Ueno Station and walking from there. Once you see a few Korean restaurants or shops along with some hanging lanterns that read ‘Higashi Ueno Korea Town’, you’ll know that you’ve reached your destination.
Upon arrival, please feel free to walk around the block and narrow allies between buildings – it may be small, however, this is where you’ll find most of the wonders hidden in Ueno City’s Korea Town.
How to Get There: Upon arriving at Ueno Station, head towards the Asakusa Entrance/Exit. Exiting the station, you’ll find a large street called 463. Follow this street until the highway is behind you. There should be a convenience store across the street, so upon reaching it, cross the street once more, heading right. Now after crossing, head down 463 just a tad bit more and turn at the next narrow road to your right. Follow this road, and Korea Town should be on your left after the seventh left corner.
Operating Hours: Varies by shop or restaurant