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Home - Travel - Essentials - Scott's Japan Travel Journal
Chinese New Year in Yokohama Chinatown

Scott's Japan Travel Journal
by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com

This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.

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2012/01/23 - Chinese New Year in Yokohama Chinatown
by scott

Yokohama Chinatown

Today was the first day of the Chinese New Year (旧正月, Kyūshoūgatsu), a big affair that marks the beginning of the lunar calendar and is celebrated with a two week long festival. The dates vary from year to year since they are based on the lunar calendar, but usually occur between late January and late February. This year's festivities will take place from January 23 to February 6.

Although it is not celebrated as a national holiday in Japan, various Chinese New Year festivals are held in Chinatowns across the country. One of the largest takes place in Yokohama Chinatown, so I headed out there this morning to check it out.

Yamashitamachi Park

Red lanterns, banners, and lights decorated the streets

Lions and dragons on display at the ChinaTown 80 building

Lots of places were decorated with red envelopes and the kanji for luck

Yokohama Chinatown was pretty crowded today, and hundreds of people visited the district's two temples to make offerings of incense and burn symbolic money for the dead. The air was heavy with smoke as people rang gongs and made prayers, and a trumpeter blew a large silver horn every few minutes.

Masobyo Temple

Huge sticks of incense left as offerings

Red banners

Kanteibyo Temple

So much incense was burning that the ash drifted down like snow

One of the most recognizable Chinese New Year's events are the lion dances, which are performed by a pair of dancers who manipulate a lion costume into dancing, tumbling, and performing acrobatic moves. On the first day of the festival several lions travel the streets from 16:00 to 20:00, stopping to dance at the shops and restaurants along the way. The lions are thought to scare away evil spirits and usher in fortune and good luck, and in return the dance troupes are rewarded with red envelopes filled with money.

One troupe of lion dancer start at Kanteibyo Temple

Lion dancers perform outside a shop

Lions are thought to spread good luck and fortune while scaring away evil spirits

More events will be held on the weekends during the festival. These include dragon dances, which are similar to lion dances but instead use several dozen meter long, serpentine puppets carried by a team of dancers. Dragon dance and lion dance performances will be held several times a day on January 28-29 and February 4-5 at Yamashitamachi Park at the center of Yokohama Chinatown.

A troupe of high school student lion dancers

Lion dancers and a huge crowd of onlookers visiting an area restaurant

On the afternoon of January 29th, a parade of people in traditional Chinese dress accompanied by lion and dragon dancers will begin at Yamashitamachi Park and circle through the districts main roads. A lantern festival, which traditionally closes the New Year's celebrations, will be held at Masobyo Temple on February 6th.

A pair of lions bless a liquor shop

The lion dances went into the night

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List of Posts:
2014/05/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2014/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2014/04/19 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsushima
2014/04/16 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2014/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukushima
2014/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2014/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2014/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2014/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kamakura
2014/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2014/03/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2014/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2014/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/07 - Abeno Harukas
2014/02/13 - Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival

2013/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2013
2013/12/11 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2013/12/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2013/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2013/11/29 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2013/11/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2013/11/27 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2013/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2013/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2013/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Fujigoko
2013/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Fujigoko
2013/10/30 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2013/10/29 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2013/10/28 - Autumn Color Report: Urabandai
2013/10/22 - Autumn Color Report: Gunma
2013/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Hakkodasan
2013/06/01 - Tohoku Rokkonsai 2013
2013/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2013/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2013/04/23 - Northern Kanto Flower Report
2013/04/18 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Mount Fuji
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakone
2013/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
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2013/03/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kamakura
2013/03/24 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2013/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2013/03/20 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/02/25 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2013/02/06 - Asahikawa Winter Festival 2013
2013/02/05 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2013

2012/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/07 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/12/05 - Autumn Color Report: Kamakura
2012/12/02 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/29 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/27 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/27 - Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination 2012
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2012/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Sakurayama
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2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
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2012/10/30 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2012/10/22 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
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2012/10/11 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
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2012/07/30 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial 2012
2012/05/07 - New Tokyo Buildings
2012/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Mount Fuji
2012/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yokohama
2012/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kamakura
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
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2012/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/02/06 - Sapporo Snow Festival
2012/02/05 - Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
2012/02/04 - Sapporo Snow Festival - Preliminary Report
2012/01/23 - Chinese New Year in Yokohama Chinatown

2011/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2011
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2011/12/05 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2011/11/30 - Tokyo Motor Show 2011
2011/11/29 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/27 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2011/11/22 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
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2011/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Nasu
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2011/09/22 - New Kanagawa Museums
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2011/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2011/04/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Aizu
2011/04/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2011/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
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2011/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
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2011/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Iwakuni
2011/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2011/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
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2010/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2010
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2010/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
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2010/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nara
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