Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki - Comparing Japan's Three Chinatowns
In Japan, there are three large Chinatowns in Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki. These areas have an exciting atmosphere that reminds one of the vibrant traditional Chinese townscapes. Explore them with Google Street View right here!
Written by LIFE STYLE, Inc.
Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki have flourished as port cities and Japan's gateways to the world. These places are home to "Japan's Three Large Chinatowns" that are well-known throughout the country. Even if they're called Chinatowns, each of them has its own specific features. In this article, we'll be using Google Street View to compare the three Chinatowns.
1. Japan's Largest Chinese Town - Yokohama Chinatown
Yokohama's Chinatown takes up the whole neighborhood of Yamashita in Yokohama's Chuo ward. It's 500 square meters wide and prides itself on being the Chinatown covering the largest area.
The four directions of the Chinatown are surrounded by a total of ten gates with the four gates in the east, west, south, and north holding the deepest meanings. Their architecture is based on China's traditional philosophy and they are built so as to stop evil from coming into the town. The gates are colored in blue, red, white, and black, and they have different designs too, making it fun to compare them.
Besides the four gates in the east, west, south, and north, there are two gates on the market street, as well as Tencho gate, Chikyu gate, Seiyo gate, and Zenrin gate. Built in 1955, the Zenrin gate stands as the symbol of Yokohama's Chinatown.
Please click and drag the image on the screen. You can change the scenery, and it will look like you're taking a walk through Chinatown.
Now, lets enter through the Zenrin gate. As you go through the gate there's the main street which continues for 300 meters. It's a street lined with Chinese style buildings, where you can see views that you wouldn't think of as being from Japan.
For more details please take a look at the Official Website of Yokohama Chinatown.
The Largest Chinese Population in Japan - Kobe's Nankin Town
Next is Kobe. The Chinatown in Kobe is called the Nankin Town. It's smaller in scale compared to Yokohama's Chinatown, but it has double the Chinese population and prides itself on being number one in Japan in terms of Chinese residents. Kobe developed as a town where the Japanese people and the Chinese people live as neighbors, so there are currently many people of Chinese origin living there. Inside the area of 200 meters east to west and 110 meters south to north, many Chinese stores, designed with a preference for red color, are lined up in a row.
The Seian Gate is on the west side of the Nankin town, the Kaiei Gate is on the south side, and the Choan Gate is on the east side. This is what the entrance area to the Choan Gate looks like.
If you go through the Choan Gate and walk for a while you'll arrive at an open space. During events like the Chinese New Year's Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival, there are various shows such as the "lion dance" being performed. This area gives off the mood of a festival.
In the Nankin Town there are various areas, such as the Macau town, the Shukai town, the Choshin town, and the Hong Kong town. Being able to enjoy the different atmospheres of these towns is one of the special appeals of the Nakin Town.
For more information on Nankin Town please take a look at the Official Website of Nankin.
Many Chinese Temples in the Area! Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown
The official name of Nagasaki's Chinatown is Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown. Nagasaki, along with Dejima, are famous for being the only two places where foreign trade was allowed during the Sakoku period (a time in history when Japan limited their exchanges with other countries). The Japanese were only allowed to trade with China and Holland. Traces that remind one of Japan's seclusion period are still left and even now Chinese style townscapes can be seen around Nagasaki.
Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown is smaller in scale compared to the ones in Yokohama and Kobe. There are only approximately 30 stores linked together. The four directions of the Chinatown are marked by the east gate, west gate, north gate, and south gate. This is what it's like around the south gate.
Minato Park can be seen across the road and on the opposite side of the south gate. It's the main stage for the Chinese New Year's Festival and is held every time at the beginning of the Lunar New Year. The 50 centimeter high stone pavement stage made of granite and stone located in front and at the back of the gates comes from the architectural style of China's Suzhou district.
As you go through the south gate, there are Chinese stores lined next to each other. Of course, there are also stores where the Nagasaki specialty, Nagasaki Chanpon plate udon, is offered.
Also, in the surrounding area of Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown, there are many traditional Chinese mansions and temples such as To Temple, Seijuyama Takashifuku Temple, and Tomeisan Kokufuku Temple, where you can feel a distinct connection to China. If you have an interest in Nagasaki and China, how about coming over here?
For more information please check out the Official Website of Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown.
There are many Chinese residents living in Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki. Their delicious Chinese foods, the unique atmosphere of the stores, the widespread use of Chinese language, and the strong distinctive feel of vermilion red, make the Chinatowns important spots where you can feel like you're in a different country within Japan.
Additionally, in every direction of a Chinatown there are gates built considering the principles of Feng Shui. Their designs are really exquisite, making it fun to watch them closely. These places will help you imagine the authentic Chinese (or Taiwanese) townscapes, and being here will be like taking an imaginary journey across the seas.