Chinatown New Year

Events Trends & Culture - January 15th, 2013

Just when you’ve digested osechi (or sobered up from the bubbles), another New Year celebration is right around the corner – this time, the Chinese New Year. What’s so different about it?

Often called the Lunar New Year, especially by people in mainland China and Taiwan, this festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar, and ends on the 15th, a day called Lantern Festival. Did you know that Japan used to celebrate New Year based on the Chinese lunar calendar?

However, in 1873, five years after the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar, so the first day of January is the official New Year’s Day in modern Japan.

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Lunar Calendar, and is also known as “Spring Festival”, as it marks the end of the winter. The event is celebrated annually in Yokohama Chinatown, and even if you can’t make it to the lavish spreads that take place in the homeland, you will be able to dine on most of the items on the menu: think pork, chicken and fish-based dishes, such as dumplings, noodle and rice fry-ups, along with traditional sweets and dried fruit goods.

Even more splendid than the fare, the performance art will be colourful and plentiful: firecrackers (they actually originate from China), the lion dance (a traditional Chinese dance in which pairs of people mimic a lion’s movements, decked in the animal costume), the dragon dance (similar but the costume is operate by several people) and street performing arts – all this to the sounds of drums, cymbals and gongs.

Each day features different types of events, so check the detailed schedule on the website, and mark this event on your agenda, as it’s so lively and festive – a perfect cure for these dreary winter days.

Chinatown Lunar New Year

When: Feb. 10-24

Where: Yokohama Chinatown (see map)

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Main image: beggs on Flickr