Adventures in East Asia

Yokohama Chinatown - One of the Largest in the World!

I initially thought the idea of a Chinatown in Japan to be a little strange because of the significant war between China and Japan in 1937 and the subsequent ill-feeling felt by many of my parent's and grandparent's generations.


Yokohama Chinatown - One of the Largest in the World!

However, it so happens that not only does a Chinatown exist in Yokohama, which is just south of Tokyo, but it happens to be the largest in Asia and is one of the largest in the world! There are over two hundred restaurants alone plus all the other types of Chinatown shops.


Yokohama Chinatown has about one hundred and fifty years of history, though these days only a few Chinese people still live there. They still number a population of about three to four thousand with most residents being from Guangzhou (Canton) as well as other regions.


Getting to Yokohama Chinatown

We reached Yokohama Chinatown by taking the Minatomirai Line to Motomachi-Chukagai Station. We make the mistake of taking a local train which makes a stop at more stations, hence increasing our journey from just over half an hour to over an hour.

It's valuable time wasted as we were already traveling mid-evening, but at least the station exit was really close to the edge of Chinatown.

I first had an inking of the size of Yokohama Chinatown when we examined the street map of the local area at Motomachi-Chukagai Station and realised that unlike the single streets of London Chinatown, Yokohama Chinatown was much more complex, encompassing several blocks.


The Streets of Yokohama Chinatown

At street level, we passed through a magnificent but typical Chinatown gate before we first made our way down what appeared to be the main street. We saw vendors lining the streets selling buns and other hot snacks as well as plenty of restaurants and smartly decorated cake shops.


The experience was not unlike London Chinatown, but there were slight differences I found in elements like the visual design and architecture, features I put down to possible craftsmanship standards in Japan and inhabitants from China (rather than Hong Kong) importing mandarin culture.


Our exploration of side streets soon revealed a closed temple amongst other shops, as well as alleys lit intimately with red lanterns.


Watch this video below to get a glimpse of the streets of Yokohama Chinatown:

Chinatown Dinner

For our evening meal, we wanted to avoid the bigger restaurants along the main street, and so found ourselves moving down this alley below, stopping by a small, quiet restaurant serving noodle dishes.


Whilst arguably taking our chances with the food, especially as both the waiter and the cook spoke a China dialect and not Cantonese, the restaurant turned out to be a gem.

The cook was positioned in a visible kitchen with a full scale wok station, not unlike sushi chefs in front of conveyor-belt diners. Linh and I both ordered noodle dishes and we watched fascinated as the cook placed a large lump of dough in his hand and proceded to shave slices off of it, straight into a wok of boiling oil.

I've got a feeling that these noodles are probably quite common in China, but we'd never seen them before and the resultant dish, together with my chilli beef and spicy broth, was delicious.

Have a look at this video to see the cook in action!

Satisfied, we both continued our exploration around the streets of Yokohama Chinatown, but by this time, it was nearing 10pm, and stores were beginning to close.

More of Yokohama Chinatown on Flickr

This entry posted in : Culture. Food. Japan. Tourism.

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