Attractions Life in Japan

Lunar New Year @ Yokohama’s Chinatown

8 February 2014

Living overseas means I inadvertently have to miss out on festivals and occasions. The most recent one is Lunar New Year.

In Japan, it’s not celebrated at all, so there is zero festive spirit. Last year I was very indifferent. I didn’t even notice which day the new year was. I absolutely have no recollection of last year’s CNY.

This year however, is brutal.

No thanks to sister #2 who sent me reunion dinner video and pictures of family and food, and sister #1 who subsequently took over the baton and tagged me in several DSLR-quality pictures.

WHY THEY SO EVIL!!! :A

Then when I logged on to facebook, instagram and suddenly all people can post is reunion dinners and CNY-related things wtf.

It didn’t help that the pineapple tarts my mom gave me on my Hong Kong trip in Dec has dwindled down to a grand total of two. TWO PAINFULLY RATIONED TARTS. Which, by the way, are the world’s best pineapple tarts. Says me.

Such a sad scene :(

Such a sad scene :(

So I decided to do something this year, a change from previously!

On 初二 (because Fu has work on 初一), we headed to the Chinatown in Yokohama! Also known as Chukagai 中華街.

One of the gates in Chukagai

One of the gates in Chukagai

I asked Suchee and Surya along, since it’s been a while since we saw them + they live in Yokohama.

Our first stop was lunch!

The thing is, ALL the restaurants have almost identical menus and almost identical prices. What we did was we shortlisted 3 restaurants, and on the count of 3, each of us will point to the restaurant we want to go to.

Girls won, since Surya and I are of one mind and we picked the same one :)

What I ordered

What I ordered

The stir-fried stuff on top of the noodles is a super typical menu item in Chinese eateries in Japan.

I kinda regretted selecting this restaurant though :O

The HK crispy noodles were too oily and heavy on taste.
The spring roll wasn’t tasty.
I don’t like fu chuk (beancurd skin soup).
I don’t like almond anything. (almond pudding on the top left)

Fu effectively had about 1.625 portion since I left a lot of my food untouched.

But everyone seemed to enjoy their food (am I just super fussy?!) so it’s all good.

After that, we came across a VERY chinese thing. My family would always visit one every new year!

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A temple!

And omg, can I just say… I hastily snapped this picture with one hand, but it turned out so nice and artistic! #selfpraise

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Inside the temple

us

Inside the temple + us :D

The temple has incense sticks, joss paper, people 求千-ing. It’s really just like any temple in Singapore! Ok, except the staff here are Japanese lah.

After that, we basically wandered around exploring. It was quite crowded though! I guess everyone wanted a piece of the CNY action too. (although there wasn’t really any to speak of…)

Crowded street

Crowded street

There’s so, so much food. Restaurants and food stalls everywhere!

And pandas. Pandas everywhere! It’s clear China has the world monopoly on pandas, what with them gifting/renting out their pandas all over the world. Therefore in this chinatown, China = pandas.

panda

PANDAMONIUM!

This one is so cute I must post the full-size image :D

This one is so cute I must post the full-size image :D

There were also a couple of grocery stores stocked with Chinese goods. We went wild buying things there haha.

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From white/black fungus to pickled vegetables to chilli oil…

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…to peanut candy and hawthorn flakes that I love!!!

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I spied these in the store’s fridge!
白花油, Tiger balm and 川贝批把膏!
So Singaporean! LOL

We read that there was a lion dance performance soon, and since Surya had never seen one before, we headed towards the square to watch.

So crowded!

Look at the crowd!

Good grief, it was so crowded, and we were very far from the stage. I saw a little girl sitting on her dad’s shoulders so I had the ingenious idea to ask Fu do the same for me :D

TADAH!

TADAH!

I think we scared everyone around us cause there was suddenly this nearly 3m thing towering dangerously near them.

Fu needed to keep his head stuck forward, turtle-style, so that I won’t fall backwards and die. But this boy kept wanting to straighten up, whilst I kept wanting to lean forward. So scary playing this see-saw game that we gave up. We found a safer option of standing on a ledge instead.

Apparently the lion dance wasn’t the first performance and we had to watch some REALLY bad performances. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a boring and anti-climatic acrobatic performance in my entire life! I’m not even exaggerating.

After waiting in the freezing cold and watching painfully for close to AN HOUR (!!!) the lion finally made its appearance.

Thank goodness.

Thank goodness.

Now we can go home

Now we can go home

The lion dance was also nothing special. Kinda makes me appreciate good lion dances now!

Thankfully, I had a fantastically good find that really cheered me up!

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THESE ARE?!?!

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THESE ARE?!?!

EGG TARTS OMGOMGOMGOMGGG!!!

I have NEVER eaten them in Japan before. NEVER. And I love them so much! And now I have a source!!! XD

So yes. That’s how we attempted to add a bit of festivity to our new year!

I wouldn’t recommend tourists to visit Chukagai if you’re coming from a country that already has an authentic Chinese experience, like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and yes, obviously China. This place won’t compare to the real thing. Just go Japanese places instead lol.

Unless you love pandas. Then that’s another story ;)

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