Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chinese New Year: Chinatown in Yokohama

Last weekend was the Chinese New Year celebration. What can be a better place to celebrate this then at the biggest Chinatown in Japan: in Yokohama!

So, last Sunday, we took the train to Yokohama. Since the new year celebrations would only start in the late afternoon, we decided to first explore some other areas of Yokohama. We started out in the Minato Mirai area, a big district close to the station and containing many shops, entertainment and restaurants. The spaciousness and wideness of the area is a welcome change from the crowds of Tokyo. Especially the area around the cruise terminal (Osanbashi Pier and the Yamashita Park) gives a wonderful view over the bay and the water and makes for a relaxing stroll.

View from Osanbashi Pier over Yokohama: Landmark tower, ferry-wheel of Cosmo World & Red brick warehouses are easy recognizable

Chinatown lies on walk-able distance from the bay. The area is filled with Chinese restaurants, food stalls and souvenir shops. Central in the area lies a big temple, with its various colours and many dragons it looks distinctly different from the typical Japanese temples.
The New Year celebrations had brought many people to Chinatown, and the streets were very crowded. It was a great mix of nationalities, of course many Chinese, but also many Japanese and foreign tourists wanted to experience the celebrations and eat the Chinese food. So there were many queues, for all the food stalls and restaurants people were lined outside and around the celebrations it was crowded with people .

Chinatown, Yokohama

The main part of the festival consisted of traditional Chinese dragon dances. Dancers, supported by drums and Chinese fire crackers, would perform the dragon dance in front (and inside) of stores. They go from store to store, and continue through all the streets. Even though it is very crowded, everyone has a change to see a dance, just line up at the store where they will perform next. The dragon dance supposedly gives good fortune to the shop for the next year.

Dragon dance video:

After trying some delicious Chinese food, and watching the dances, we walked back to the bay area to enjoy to beautiful light up skyline of Yokohama.

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