Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yokohama Yet Again : Chinatown

Yokohama is one city in Japan that we love visiting. We have been there many times before, but every visit makes us love Yokohama even more. Located less than 1 hour away from Tokyo, Yokohama has almost everything that Tokyo has with perhaps more breathing space. On our earlier visits we have visited the MinatoMirai area, Yamashita Park, Anpanman Museum and even drove past China town. On our recent trip to Yokohama, we finally visited China Town.

Yokohama’s China town, known locally as 中華街 Chūkagai, is Japan’s largest China town. It is also believed to be among one of the largest China towns in the world.
The port of Yokohama was one of the first ports in Japan to be opened for foreign trade . For almost 200 years during the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, Japan had no trade relations with the outside world. In 1853-54, the Treaty of Peace and Amity was signed and Japan opened few ports for trading. The sleepy fishing village of Yokohama transformed into the Port of Yokohama and was opened for foreign trade on 2nd June 1959. Overnight, Yokohama turned into Japan’s base for foreign trade. The Chinese traders were amongst the earliest traders to settle down in Yokohama.The tiles on Chinatown's sidewalks depict the Chinese influence on Yokohama. 

Initially, as per Government regulations, foreign traders were not allowed to live outside designated foreign settlement areas and as such the Chinese traders built Chinese school, community centre, and other infrastructure for their community. About 2000-3000 Chinese families still reside in the Chinatown. 

Four colourful gates mark the entrance to Chinatown and five more gates can be seen within the Chinatown.

 Kantei byo is a temple dedicated to the Chinese god of accountancy, business and prosperity. 

The temple built in 1887 stands in the heart of China town.

Chinatown has emerged into a touristy place thanks to the large number of stores selling Chinese dresses, knickknacks and other goods.
The streets of Chinatown are filled with Chinese restaurants and food stands selling Chinese noodles (ramen), Manju (steamed stuffed buns) and grilled meat etc.

 Chinese fortunetellers can also be found aplenty.
Many Chinese sculptures can be seen around Chinatown.
Various Chinese festivals are celebrated in China town, the most prominent being the Chinese New Year in February, when the entire area wears a festive look.

Access: Chinatown is located close to the Yamashita Park area and can be reached  within few mintues by foot . The nearest railway station is Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minato Mirai Line and Ishikawacho on the JR Negishi Line.


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