Tokyo's Edogawa Ward boasts the largest Indian community in Japan.
But don't go there expecting to see a bustling "Indian Town" neighborhood, alive with the spicy aromas of curry restaurants and shops catering traditional Indian wares. It simply doesn't exist.
Records show that 10 percent of all the Indian people in Japan live in Edogawa, most of them in the Nishi-Kasai neighborhood.
"There are many Indians around here," said 59-year-old Jagmohan Chandrani, who has lived in Nishi-Kasai for more than 30 years. "But they do not stick together in one section, as if showing off, 'This is the Indian section.'"
"Most of them are families of engineers working for information technology companies. Most of them leave Japan after two to three years. This makes our 'Indian community' different."
The Indian population in the area surged after the relaxation of visa requirements coincided with India becoming known as a worldwide power in producing talented IT engineers.
But for many expats from India, Tokyo is not a comfortable city in which to live. Many have found it difficult to find rental accommodation along the Tozai Line, which offers a convenient commute to Otemachi in central Tokyo, where many of the IT firms that employ them are located.
And because many Indian people are vegetarians, the dearth of Indian restaurants in the Nishi-Kasai neighborhood means that many people cook at home.
Concerned about problems facing newcomers from his native country, Chandrani helped establish the Edogawa Indian Association.
Chandrani talked to owners of condominiums and apartments and convinced them to rent to Indian newcomers. He also opened an Indian restaurant, "Calcutta," near the Nishi-Kasai Station so his fellow Indians can enjoy home cooking. An Indian school was established, too. Soon, the Indian population in Nishi-Kasai and the neighboring Koto Ward began to grow.
However, due to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident last year, about 1,000 Indians have left Japan. There are many households in which the mother and children have not returned, Chandrani said.
As of Jan. 1, 2011, there were 2,336 Indian nationals in Edogawa Ward, and 1,148 in Koto Ward.
But more than 10,000 Indian people are still on the Edogawa Indian Association's mailing list, for many miss Japan after leaving and want to stay in touch through the association.
In October, the association will celebrate the Diwali Festival, which marks the Hindu New Year, with their Japanese neighbors.
"After 10 years of living in this community, the locals are used to Indian people and extend kindness to us," Chandrani said. "I hope Nishi-Kasai will continue to be an international-minded town, where the Japanese and Indians naturally interact."
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