The enclaves of ethnic groups exist in various parts of Japan. The neighbourhoods of “Yokohama Chinatown” and “Nankin-machi” in Kobe are two renowned examples; not to mention the popular tourist attraction of Korean street in Shin-Okubo, Tokyo. Apart from these tourist attractions, there are many more areas where the minority ethnics congregate, one of them is Nishi-Kasai in Edogawa district of Tokyo.
Where about is Nishi-Kasai?
Located at the east most end of Tokyo, Nishi-Kasai is part of Edogawa District. It is across the river (Kyu Edo River) from Urayasu city of Chiba Prefecture. Nishi-Kasai and the Tokyo Disneyland are along the Tozai Line (East-West) of Tokyo Metro. Two stations apart, 5 minutes travel time. When travelling on Tozai Line bound for Tokyo city center, you could directly access to Nihonbashi, Otemachi, Kudan-shita, Kagurazaka, Takadanobaba and so forth.
Development of Nishi-Kasai started in 1979 when the operation of Nishi-Kasai station (Tokyo Metro Tozai Line) was inaugurated. The north of the station – Kojima-cho 2-chome Danchi, which consisted of low rental and cost flats has attracted foreign settlements to this area.
Why Indian settled down in Nishi-Kasai?
Apart from the early settlements, most arrivals of Indian started in late nineties. Numerous corporations were preparing for the Y2K Problem (Millennium Bug) before the roll over. There was a high demand of IT experts where some of them came from India. They worked in either Marunouchi and Otemachi which have corporate headquarters or the financial districts of Nihonbashi and Kayabacho. Nishi-Kasai with favorable factors and strategic location along the Tozai Line has become the attention. Currently, the Indian population in Edogawa area has exceeded 3,200* and is the most in Tokyo, with increasing trend (followed by 1,800 in Koto area).
*reference made: Bureau of General Affairs, Statistics Division – Tokyo (in Japanese)
Is Nishi-Kasai really that “Indian”?
When it comes to demographic, Indian ranks the fourth after Korean, Chinese and Filipino. One of the reasons is that most Indian are in Japan only for short term and there is high turnover. Over the decades, there is minimal influence of cultural elements locally in this enclave.
Set the expectation low…
Community under development
Hyogo Prefecture, with Kobe as the largest city within the prefecture was once the enclave with the most Indian. Kobe was one of the first five ports opened to the world for trading in the early days. Since the port marked its beginning in 1868, the merchants from India gradually formed a community here. One of the two Sikh temples in Japan as well as the only Jainism temple in the country are in Kobe.
The concept of envisioning the “Indian Street” has been initiated recently. The fundraising for construction of temples is underway. Inline with the population growth, the neighbourhood is developing. Three Indian schools have been established for the descendants. Moreover, the Indian restaurants in the vicinity make them feel like home and provide another cultural perspective to the Japanese.
Experience of delicacies
There is never a lack of food choices in Tokyo metropolitan area. One does not need to keep to Japanese cuisine all day long. If one is curious and time permits, one can plan for Tsukiji in the morning, Kinshicho for exotic Thai in the afternoon, followed by Nishi-Kasai in the evening. Explore Tokyo while tasting – a fresh approach to the foodie world in the Land of the Rising Sun!
A couple of popular eateries in Nishi-Kasai:
Spice Magic Calcutta
Hours: 11.00am – 3.00pm / 5.00pm-10.00pm [no credit card accepted]
Two outlets at Nishi-Kasai station, southern and northern Indian food are served via the locations at south exit and north exit respectively. They have been frequented by local celebrities and introduced in TV program. One of the best known.
Hours: 11.00am – 3.00pm / 5.00pm – 10.00pm (Mondays off. Should a public holiday fall on Monday, Tuesday will follow suit) [no credit card accepted]
Serve southern Indian menu, located at north exit . There was rumors back in 2016 on closing down, but it is still in business until today. The limited time weekend special (Saturdays and Sundays) – “all you can eat” normally requires some queuing.
Indian Restaurant & Bar Munal
Hours: 11am – 3.00pm / 5.00pm – 11.00pm [no credit card accepted]
5 minutes walk from the north exit . The northern Indian food served is rather mild and less spicy. Suits the taste of local Japanese. Affordable and reasonable portion.
Hours: 11.30am – 3.00pm / 6.00pm – 9.30pm (Mondays off)
Originally located in Nishi-Kasai, but has been relocated to Kasai . It serves home-cooked western Indian cuisine. Less greasy is one of the selling points. Known for its aromatic and colourful basmati rice. Offer western Indian dishes are not found in other restaurants (restaurant website ).
Annual get together in end of October
The annual grandest event in India, Diwali or Deepavali, is the moment when the Indian in Nishi-Kasai get together and celebrate. Without exception, on October 21 this year, the 18th Diwali Festa was held at Nishi-Kasai. The organizer not only put up some musical performances and Indian dances, but also set-up snack stalls operated by restaurants from the community.
Travel via Tokyo Metro Tozai Line is one of the options. Otherwise, buses are available from stops along Kameido Station and Shin-Koiwa Station (JR Sobu Line) or Funabori Station (Toei Subway Shinjuku Line).