Celebrating the Lunar New Year in Japan’s Biggest Chinatown

Whenever I get homesick, a quick visit to Yokohama Chinatown is all it takes for me to feel slightly placated. Back in 1859, Yokohama was one of the first Japanese ports to open up to foreign trade. Chinatown quickly developed to accommodate the many Chinese traders who settled down in this city. Of course, that was a long time ago and these days there are more businesses than actual people living here.

Street food is a rarity in most places in Japan, but in Chinatown, it’s everywhere. It’s also heavily catered to the Japanese palate. You simply cannot run away from the kawaii cuteness obsession that this country has. 

Panda-shaped paos. Err… Seriously?

It’s been a good ten years since I celebrated the Lunar New Year and this year I got to usher in the Year of the Rooster with a British-Chinese friend I made in Taiwan. Of course, it was nowhere near as grandiose and opulent as Chinese New Years in Singapore, but… We expats make do with what we can. 

We went to a palm reader, had our tarot cards read and then ate enough to feed an army. I love love LOVE tabehodai all-you-can-eat in Yokohama. It’s one of the few things on the tourist trail that I’m happy to repeat over and over again. 

By the way, if you’re wondering why a brown girl like me is celebrating the Chinese New Year, check out this post: Growing up in Two Old Cultures in a New Country.

Happy Lunar New Year, guys. Here’s hoping the Year of the Rooster will be a good one for all of us 🙂


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