Yokohama Chinatown

Yokohama Chinatown

Yokohama Chinatown is not only the largest Chinatown in Japan but also in Asia and thanks mainly to the bountiful supply of restaurants, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. With the construction of the Minato Mirai line, access to Chinatown has become even more convenient allowing visitors to take a train directly from Shibuya in the heart of Tokyo to Motomachi Chukagai Station.

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Ultra modern Motomachi-Chukagai Station   Magnificent gate


A Brief History

In the mid-nineteenth century, due to the opening of Yokohama Port and increased trade with the outside world, many Chinese traders settled in the area that is now Yokohama Chinatown. The area has gone through dramatic changes over the years because of the Great Kanto Earthquake and war between Japan and China and it wasn't until 1955 that the area became officially known as Yokohama Chinatown.

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North Gate   Lanterns above the streets

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Colorful gate   Bruce Lee T-Shirts


Let's Eat!

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Selling roast chestnuts   90 yen Nikuman

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Various dumplings for sale   Pandaman - Chinese Pork buns with panda face

While it is fun to just stroll through Chinatown soaking up the atmosphere, food is really what puts it on the map. There are over 200 restaurants in the relatively small area that lies between Yamashita Park and Motomachi. Many restaurants, like the wonderful Manchinro, provide a luxurious atmosphere and huge menus. In fact there are restaurants that specialize in cuisine from just about every area in China so you could taste different parts of China every night for week if you wanted to.After you have dined, don't forget to visit the popular store, Kocho, which sells steamed dumplings prepared by champion chefs. They are a great gift to take home to your friends and family.

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Various dumplings   Cute corner restaurant

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Pandaman sign and lanterns   Kingenro Restaurant

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Champion chef making nikuman   Famous nikuman restaurant


Shopping

Chinatown is a great place for souvenirs. On top of the usual Yokohama souvenirs you can choose from a huge selection of Chinese food and China themed goods. Popular items are of course the various dumplings and cakes such as shumai and nikuman. There are innumerable products based around the panda including t-shirts, slippers and even its very own nikuman called the pandaman. The name comes from the panda-like face the dumplings are decorated with. Of course you will be able to get yourself a Bruce Lee t-shirts or Chinese Hello Kitty goods.

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Chinese clothes for children   Panda Souvenirs

You can kill two birds with the one stone by visiting Yokohama Daska (China Museum). There is a huge selection of food and souvenirs to take back to your friends and family and on the 3rd floor there is a food court designed to look like old Shanghai. Other floors provide entertainment such as a trick art gallery which is great for a laugh and other performances that are held regularly.

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Yokohama Daska (China Museum)   Ornate gate in front of China Museum

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Food court in China Museum   Lunch at China Museum

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Various restaurants to choose from at China Museum   Chinese lanterns


Sightseeing

The magnificent gates and temples are another reason people come to Chinatown. There are four main gates marking the north, south, east and west entrances with another six inside. These intricately designed gates are painted in vivid colors with gold, blue and red being the most prominent. The gates are dedicated to various gods and they are believed to bring good luck to the people in Chinatown. The older of the two temples, the Kanteibyo, was originally constructed in 1873 but has been rebuilt several times due to fire and disaster. With the help of the local community, each time it was rebuilt it became even more splendorous. The less opulent Yokohama Mazu Miao Temple is another example of the community coming together. Plans for an apartment building on the site were scrapped to preserve the aesthetic harmony of the area. This beautiful temple was built in its place.

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The magnificent Mazu Miao Temple   Mazu Miao Temple entrance

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Ornate decorations   Chinese signs at the temple

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Alter in Mazu Miao Temple   Yokohama Kanteibyo

Many of the stores too, are ornately decorated and many of the restaurants are furnished with magnificent antiques and art. There is certainly no shortage of visual candy while walking through the narrow crowded streets of Chinatown. If you need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the streets you can buy some Chinese snacks and walk over to Yamashita Park for a quick picnic.

Events

During the year there are many events held in Chinatown but the Chinese New Year celebrations are by far the biggest with some events even starting on the last day of November and continuing through to the end of February. From November 30th Chinatown will be lit up with beautiful lanterns and other lights. The main festivals with performances and parades will be held at the end of January and the beginning of February. You can expect a lively atmosphere with streets even more crowded than usual but there is no better place to celebrate Chinese New Year than in Yokohama's Chinatown.