Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Yokohama Chinatown is the largest Chinese town in Japan. With it gorgeous temple and traditional gates guarding the four directions, it is a fascinating sightseeing spot. Moreover, unique cuisine and gorgeous souvenirs make the Chinatown a must visit place
Craving Chinese cuisine while visiting Japan? Or you happen to be around Tokyo, wondering what to do next? There is no better place to visit than the Chinatown in Yokohama, also known as Yokohama Chukagai. It is the largest one in Japan and a must visit for its fabulous food, sightseeing spots and lively atmosphere. The hustle bustle and the vibrant vibe of this place will surely make you want to visit again. 
Yokohama Chinatown developed after the port of Yokohama was opened to foreign trade in 1859. It became the residence area of the many Chinese traders who settled down in the city. There are more than 600 Chinese stores and restaurants in the Chinatown, buzzing with activity from morning until late in the night

Four colorful gates named after the four directions in Chinese tradition stand as entrances to Chinatown and five more gates can be found within. You can enter the town from any of the four gates. Guardian deities are enshrined in each of these gates, according to the principles of Feng Shui. It is believed that these deities protect the trade and prosperity of the Chinatown.
The East Gate (Chōyō-mon) relates to the Azure Dragon God, and brings prosperity. The South Gate (Suzaku-mon) is associated with Suzaku - the sacred Vermillion Bird - and hence the color red. It brings good fortune and protection from disaster. The North Gate (Genbu-mon) relates to the Black Tortoise, and is associated with the God Xuanwu (in Chinese) or Genbu (in Japanese). The West Gate (Enpei-mon) is related to the White Tiger deity of Chinese mythology, and is known as Baihu (in Chinese) or Byakkō (in Japanese). The gate relates to eternal peace.
The fifth gate, Zenrin-mon, also known as "the Gate of Good Neighborly Relations" is the symbol of Chinatown and the most beautiful, with its bright red color. It symbolizes warm human relationships and the act of welcoming everyone with an open heart.

This bright red colored temple is located in the center of Chinatown. Built in 1873 by the Chinese residents, it is dedicated to the Chinese deity of good business and prosperity.
The temple is so exquisite and peaceful that one cannot escape its charm. Visitors can offer prayers and also light incense sticks in front of the temple. During the night, the temple is lit up by lanterns and the view is simply blissful Kanteibyo Temple is elaborately decorated with beautiful and intricate patterns, offering one of the best photographic views in the area.

One of the finest attractions of the Yokohama Chinatown is the cuisine offered at its many restaurants and food stands. Visitors can spend big on a single meal or fill up on steamed buns for a single coin. There is a choice for all tastes and budgets.
You will notice the street side hawkers selling large steamed buns. It is hard to resist these aromatic and delicious steamed buns which are available at a very cheap price. Filled with various ingredients, these massive and well-loved snacks abound the streets of Chinatown. I especially recommend the huge steamed pork buns, loaded with coarsely chopped meat, gao-wa (leeks), and tiny cubes of pickled mustard green. Particularly popular are the goma-dango (sesame balls), small fried balls with a red bean mixture inside. Shouronpo are another popular treat for non-vegetarians, containing a meat based filling. They are so delicious that you will want to try all the varieties.

Mābōdōfu is another must try dish from Chinatown. Originally a dish from the Sichuan province in China, it consists of tōfu boiled in a spicy chili- and red bean based sauce cooked with fermented black beans and minced meat which is often pork or beef. 
Variations are made with other ingredients popular in Japan. Mābōdōfu comes in a set meal and is affordable. Many restaurants have different prices for the same dish. You can choose from the array of restaurants along the streets of Chinatown. A picture of the menu and the prices of each dish are displayed on the boards outside the shops, so choosing what and where you want to eat won't be a difficult task.

Chinatown boasts a variety of shops selling Chinese vegetables, fruit, herbs, seasonings and spices. In addition, one can find Chinese medicine stores, select tea shops, as well as stores selling kitchen utensils, lanterns and Chinese wines. The stalls of Chinese fortune tellers, palm readers and astrology advisers are also an usual sight on the streets in the area.
The best keepsake from this vibrant town would be, for example, good luck charms or the charming traditional Chinese dress called "qipao". The qipao is very hard to find in other areas of Japan. Souvenirs from the store "Panda memorabilia" are also great. This shop features accessories, sweets and stationery items inspired by the cuteness of the panda.

In Conclusion
YokohamaChinatown is a fascinating area that will allow you to feel as if you are traveling to Japan and China at the same time. It is a great destination for a peaceful afternoon and I warmly recommend it as a place that symbolizes the multicultural appeal of Yokohama.

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