Tag Archives: Chinatown

Kanagawa

25 Aug

Yesterday we went to Kanagawa. The prefecture to the south of Tokyo.

First we went to Kamakura. Kamakura has many temples and shrines…but is probably most famous for the 大仏 (Great Buddha) statue that is there. We didn’t visit the Great Buddha yesterday, but we’ve been to it many times before (Click here to see photo I took of the Great Buddha about six years ago.)

First we visited the 小町通り (Komachi Street).

Ghibli store

The “Iwata Coffee Shop”. It’s claim-to-fame is that John Lennon ate there when he visited Kamakura.

A toy store.

We ate breakfast at the well-known “Komeda Coffee” restaurant.

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We went to the famous 報国寺 (Hōkoku-ji Temple), also called 竹寺 (“Bamboo Temple”) because of it’s bamboo forest!

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After we left the “Bamboo Temple”, I saw this old Coke machine that sold the cola in glass bottles:

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Some turtles in a pond came out of the water looking for food hand-outs from the people. Including this スッポン (Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle):

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Kamakura has many local-brewed beers, including this 「大仏ビール」 (“Great Buddha Beer”) that I bought:

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After Kamakura, we went to Yokohama:

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「横浜中華街」 (Yokohama Chinatown)

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The Yokohama Chinatown 交番 (Police Box).

In Yokohama Chinatwon, we ate 担々麺 (spicy “Tan-tan-men” Ramen) for lunch.

A shopping mall had a dinosaur exhibit.

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Yokohama skyline.

For dinner, we ate at an 居酒屋 (Japanese “izakaya” pub).

The 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th

12 Feb

Have you seen the photos of the “2001 September 11th attacks” on the World Trade Center towers in New York City that were recently made public?

These photos were taken by New York Police Officers who were on the scene in a police helicopter.

Here are some of the photos they took:

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The 2010 Winter Olympics will take place in Vancouver, Canada.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin on Friday, 2010 February 12th in the evening…Canada time. So, it’ll be Saturday, 2010 February 13th here in Japan when the ceremony begins.

The official 2010 Olympics logo.

The games will go from 2010 February 12-28 (Canada time).
Do you watch the Olympics?
I watch them…but the games go for over two weeks—I don’t watch everyday of the games. I like to watch some of the opening ceremony and some of the closing ceremony and a few games in between.

This year, Japan is sending 95 athletes to compete in the Olympics, America is sending 216, and Canada (the host country) will have 206 athletes play.
How many athletes from your country will be at the 2010 Olympics?

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Sunday, February 14th will be Valentine’s Day.
How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in your country?

In Japan, it’s done the opposite of how America celebrates it. And Japan has another holiday (called “White Day“) in March that is more similar to Western-style Valentine’s.

Click here to read my FAQ about Valentine’s Day in Japan…
and click here to read my post that explains Japanese Valentine’s (and other holidays in February) in more detail.

Also, this year on February 14 will be the Chinese New Years.
I mentioned it on my site’s “Festivals In Tokyo” page….click here to read it.

Have you ever experienced a Chinese New Years ceremony?
If you’re in the Tokyo area this weekend, you can go to 「横浜中華街」 (“Yokohama China Town“) and see a Chinese New Years ceremony.

節分

4 Feb

Yesterday was 節分 (Setsubun).

Click here to read a post I wrote last week about it.

On this holiday (the first day of Spring in the old Lunar calendar), people (usually children) throw soy beans at someone dressed as the (demon) (usually the father) while shouting 「鬼は外!福は内!」 (“Bad luck out! Fortune in!”).

Setsubun demon masks.

Setsubun demon masks.

Also, many temples and shrines have festivals on 節分 (Setsubun) that often include sumo wrestlers and other celebrities throwing beans at the crowd.

Tokyo’s 増上寺 (Zoujyouji Temple) is one of the most popular places at 節分 (Setsubun).

Setsubun 2009 at Zoujyouji

Setsubun 2009 at Zoujyouji

This year’s celebrities at 増上寺 (Zoujyouji Temple) included Chadha, the Indian singer of Japanese Enka music and Tamao Nakamura, an actress.

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Tomorrow, the world famous annual 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival) begins and goes for one week.

2009 �幌雪まつり

2009 札幌雪まつり

I went to this festival in 1992. It was great! I’d like to go again one day.

A highlight of the festival are the big, elaborate snow sculptures.

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Click here to visit the 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival) website in 日本語…or click here to visit the English version.

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横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) is having various 春節 (Chinese New Year) events until February 28.

You should check it out if you have a chance…even though the best parts (lion dance, dragon dance, etc) were on January 26, the date of Chinese New Year this year…there are still parades are other things scheduled various days this month.
Click here to visit the official 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) website’s 春節 (Chinese New Year) page. (Japanese only).

I wrote a post about Chinese New Year (click here to see it) and I mention in that post about the difference between the Chinese dragon dance and the Japanese one.

At New Years time, both China and Japan also have lion dances…but, just like the Chinese and Japanese dragons are quite different, so are the Chinese and Japanese lions.

The Chinese one:

Chinese Lion dance

Chinese Lion dance

The Japanese one looks and moves quite different. In Japan, it’s called 「獅子舞」 (Shishimai):

Japanese "Shishimai" Lion Dance

Japanese "Shishimai" Lion Dance

Chinese New Year

25 Jan

Today is New Years Eve in China. The last day of the 子年 (“Year Of The Mouse”).

If you’re in the area, and you have a chance, I recommend going to 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) in 横浜 (Yokohama, Japan) tomorrow.

If you went there tonight, they are having New Years Eve celebrations as I write this.
But if you can go there tomorrow (Monday, January 26, 2009), that’s when the bigger celebrations will happen.

The most famous is the parade with the Chinese dragon dance.

Chinese Dragon Dance

(The Japanese version of this is the 金竜の舞い (“Golden Dragon Festival”) in Tokyo every March (Click here to read a bit about this festival on my “Festivals In Tokyo” page)):

As in Japan, New Years is China’s biggest holiday.
Actually there are a number of similarities between Chinese and Japanese New Years…although in Japan, the details are Japanese style and in China, they’re uniquely Chinese, of course.
For example, just like New Years in Japan, in China New Years is a time for getting together with family for a big traditional dinner and first visit of the year to a temple and family grave.
Also, in both countries, children receive お年玉 (gift money) in a special envelope. In Japan, the envelope is usually white with cartoon characters on it…in China, it’s almost always red (red is a lucky color in China).

Japan uses the Chinese horoscope with twelve creatures. So, January 1, 2009 began the 丑年 (“Year Of The Cow”) in Japan…and in China, the “Year Of The Cow” begins tomorrow.

Also, both countries have their own unique calendar. So, the official year in Japan is currently 平成二十一年 (Heisei 21). In China, tomorrow will begin the year 4706!

Click here to read the short bit I wrote about Chinese New Year in Yokohama Chinatown on my “Festivals In Tokyo” page.

Also, I’ve been living in Japan since 1990, so I know about Japan’s culture, holidays, etc…but I don’t know much about China. So, the parts I wrote in this post regarding China are based on what I’ve read and heard over the years.

(I also wrote about Japanese New Years, of course. Click here and here to read about it.)

横浜

7 Apr

Yesterday was the last day of my kids’ Spring Vacation from school. Today’s the first day of the new school year.

So, yesterday, we decided to go to Yokohama again.

Actually, we originally planned to go to the “Friendship Day Festival” at the US Navy base. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. But we heard that they were canceling the event due to the recent crimes by US servicemen.
Since we were gonna go down to 神奈川県 (Kanagawa), we decided to re-visit Yokohama.

As I mentioned in the post below, we hadn’t been to Yokohama in awhile and alot has changed there over the years. And the last time we went, we didn’t have time to visit all the places we wanted to go.

So, yesterday, we went to the 「横浜アンパンマンこどもミュージアム」 (“Yokohama Anpanman Children’s Museum”).

“Anpanman” is a Japanese young children’s cartoon character of a superhero made of bean-stuffed bread named “Anpan-man” (“Bean-paste Bread Man”). He, and his friends (who are all different food characters), battle the villians who are led by “Baikinman” (“Germ Man”) using good nutrition, soap, and kindness (it is a cartoon for young children, after all).

My kids have long outgrown any interest in Anpanman. So we didn’t go into the museum…but visited the bread store and gift shops.

Here’s a picture of some bread made in the image of some of the characters from the show:

After we left there, we walked past a road that is semi-famous in Yokohama because it has a wall the entire length of the road that is covered in elaborate graffiti.

Here are a bit of the art that caught my attention:

From there, we headed over to a park and ate a picnic lunch that my wife and daughters prepared and then we walked over to the 野毛山動物園 (“Nogeyama Zoo”).

The 横浜動物園 (“Yokohama Zoo”) is the main zoo in Yokohama and it’s a great zoo. But the Nogeyama Zoo is nice too…and it’s free!

For a free zoo, I was surprised how nice it is, actually. They have reptiles, birds, penguins, monkeys, giraffes, tigers, lions (the male lion had died recently), a camel and a petting zoo with small animals (chicks, guinea pigs, mice, etc) that kids can hold.

It was nice and we enjoyed it.

After we left the zoo, we went to 山下公園 (“Yamashita Park”). We hadn’t been there in years…I was surprised that they built a convenience store there. It’s a good location for one, though. I bet they get alot of customers.

“Yamashita Park” is near 横浜中華街 (“Yokohama Chinatown”), so we headed there.

Near Chinatown, there were many 人力車 (“Rick shaw”) drivers offering rides around the area (Rick-shaw can be found in many traditional areas of Japan offering rides to tourists). (“Rick-shaw”, by the way, comes from the Japanese word 人力車 (jin-riki-sha ) which translates, literally, to “Man powered vehicle”).

Here’s the entrance to Chinatown (can you tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese style? Both countries have torii gates, temples, shrines, paper lanterns, etc…but they look quite different.):

A closer look:

After we looked around Chinatown a bit, we went for dinner at a favorite restaurant of ours and then headed home.

The girls had school in the morning.