While in Tokyo earlier this month, I couldn't help but notice how the city has changed. Where once it was rare to hear any language other than Japanese spoken on the street, now it happens constantly. Most of this is due to the huge tourism boom — more than 30 million people now visit Japan every year.
But obscured by that vast influx of guests is a longer-term trend. Tokyo is becoming a much more ethnically diverse city. I encountered black store clerks from the Netherlands and Africa, Chinese waiters at traditional Japanese restaurants, South Asian students staffing convenience stores, a white waitress at Starbucks, a Korean restaurant run by Southeast Asians.
These are anecdotes, but there's data to back them up. In 2018, 1 out of 8 young people turning 20 in Tokyo wasn't born in Japan. That doesn't even count the people who were born in Japan but aren't ethnically Japanese. Although Tokyo isn't close to becoming a multiracial metropolis like New York City or London, the word "homogeneous" no longer fits the city.