If New Year in Tokyo was too quiet for your taste, you’ll find Chinese New Year in Yokohama Chinatown to be one of the most colorful, lively celebrations—a perfect cure for these dreary winter days.
Also known as 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—January 31 in 2014—and ends with Lantern Festival, which falls on February 14 this year, making Valentine’s Day even more festive this time around. Did you know that Japan also used to celebrate New Year based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar?
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 colorful 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 operated by several people) and street performing arts—all set to the sounds of drums, cymbals and gongs.
There are different activities and performances every day, so make sure to check the detailed schedule on Yokohama City’s website.
Chinese New Year in Yokohama’s Chinatown
More information: www.welcome.city.yokohama.jp/eng/travel/events/upcoming_events
When: January 31–February 14
Where: Yokohama Chinatown (see map)
By Vivian Morelli
Main image: vpickering/Flickr