Saturday, February 5, 2011

Syunsetsu

February 3rd was New Year's Day according to the lunar calendar called Syunsetsu(春節) this year. In Yokohama's Chinatown, New Year celebrations are being held from February 3rd to 17th.
(the pictures of the last year's celebrations : Four Seasons of Yokohama Kamakura,横浜鎌倉の四季)

There are more than 500 shops on the site of about 0.2 square meters.  After the opening of the Port of Yokohama in 1859, many Chinese merchants migrated to the foreign settlement.

There is a Kantei-byo(関帝廟) in the town. It's a temple of Guan Yu(関羽, ?-219) who was an ancient Chinese warlord and is enshrined as the god of commerce because he kept faith.

Most restaurants in the town served Cantonese cuisine.
Heichinrou(聘珍樓) was founded in Yokohama in 1884 and was introduced as one of famous Cantonese restaurants in a book published in 1909. It has been in business for 120 years.

The town experienced two Sino-Japanese wars and was burned down by The Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and World War II.

Now we associate the town with Chinese restaurants.
When I was a child, I looked forward very much to an annual lunch with my family at the town.
Many Japanese housewives cooked Chinese cuisine that adjusted their fare to suit Japanese tastes. The ingredients in chinese cooking were less commonly available and it was difficult to make real Chinese cooking at home.

Small family-run restaurants used to fill the town, but such restaurants are disappearing now. A new breed of Chinese shopkeepers is coming to the forefront.

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