The Final Information to Chinatowns in Japan


I realized early on in my travels to watch out when mentioning Japan and China in the identical sentence. This was even earlier than I knew the extent of the World Warfare II brutality that has led folks on either side to really feel this fashion.

Despite this, an inextricable fact stays: Chinese language affect is inextricable from Japan, and never simply previous incarnations of the latter. Even exploring Japan within the twenty first century, you’ll see many examples of Chinese language tradition and delicacies as you journey.

That is most acute as you discover the assorted Chinatowns in Japan, although you don’t essentially should be in Yokohama, Kobe or Nagasaki to understand Japan’s lingering Chinese language character.

China Has At all times Been a A part of Japan

Whereas I clearly don’t imply this actually, China has at all times had a large affect on life in Japan—and I’m not simply speaking when it comes to Japan Chinatowns. When you return in Japanese historical past (and I imply all the best way again in Japanese historical past), the travels of early Japanese diplomats to historical China influenced their impressions of how Japanese society needs to be constructed.

Japan isn’t China, and it by no means has been. Somewhat, I’d say the connection of Japan to China all through time has been just like the one between Australia and New Zealand. Whereas the event of recent societies on both aspect of The Ditch has been comparable, a notable distinction has been that whereas bodily casinos exist in Australia, Kiwis need to play video games together with in style pokies in a web based setting (if in any respect).

Japan’s Chinatowns (Official and Unofficial)



Essentially the most handy of Japan’s three “predominant” Chinatowns to Tokyo, Yokohama Chinatown is the primary one I ever visited. It’s a delight to discover and uncover, whether or not you eat at a conventional Cantonese restaurant with gadgets shared round an enormous, spherical desk, or enterprise out within the darkness to apply your nighttime pictures expertise at Kuan Ti Miao Taoist temple.



Planning to spend most of your journey within the Kansai area, slightly than Tokyo? A extra handy Japanese Chinatown is Kobe Chinatown. Positioned close to Motomachi Station solely a brief stroll each from Sannomiya and the Kobe Port Tower, Kobe’s Chinatown is barely extra modest than the one you discover in Yokohama. I like contrasting the traditions right here with these “up the hill” in Western-inflected Kitano-cho.



As I write this text and suppose again on greater than a decade of journey, it appears hasty to declare Nagasaki Chinatown my “favourite.” Alternatively, it’s a delight to discover, particularly at night time. It’s close to the previous Dutch settlement of Dejima, so whether or not you’re consuming Chinese language chanpon beneath its colourful lights or visiting the Spectacles Bridge (which might simply as effectively be in Europe), you’re positive to get pleasure from your self.



Whereas Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district isn’t an official Japan Chinatown, this can be very handy. Positioned on each the JR Yamanote Line and on the western finish of the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Ikebukuro is a spot you’re more likely to be anyway. Pay attention to the handfuls of Chinese language companies (and other people) all over the place, even in the event you solely come right here to benefit from the view from Sunshine Metropolis Observatory



Neither Aomori nor Sendai cities are visibly extra Chinese language than anyplace else in Japan. Nevertheless, coming to the Tohoku area the place you discover them, at the very least in the summertime, can expose you to quintessentially Japanese experiences which might be Chinese language in origin. I’m talking, after all, about Sendai’s Tanabata pageant and the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, two of Japan’s prime summer time festivals.

The Best Solution to Expertise China in Japan

Don’t have area in your itinerary to expertise any of the conspicuously Chinese language locations or occasions in Japan? Eat these meals as a substitute:

  • Though it’s thought to be a quintessential Japanese meals lately, ramen noodle soup originated in China, and has extra in frequent with Chinese language delicacies than most Japanese meals.,
  • Love gyoza? Whether or not you eat it in Japan beneath this identify, or have loved “pot stickers” within the US or Europe, these crispy dumplings are Chinese language by way of and thru.
  • Whereas tantanmen shares characters with Chinese language dan dan mian, the noodles you discover in Japan’s Akita aren’t fairly the identical as what you discover in China’s Chengdu, although they’re each spicy and scrumptious.

As you possibly can see, discovering Chinese language affect in Japan is commonly merely a matter of sitting down for a meal. Depart a remark beneath to let me know which one you discover most scrumptious.

Different FAQ About Chinatowns in Japan

What number of Chinatowns does Japan have?

Japan has three correct Chinatowns, positioned in Yokohama, Kobe and Nagasaki cities. Moreover, you will discover sizable Chinese language affect in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro ward, and in addition by attending summer time matsuri in Sendai and Aomori cities within the Tohoku area. 

What’s Japan’s oldest Chinatown?

Japan’s oldest Chinatown is the one in Nagasaki, which dates again a number of hundred years. This is smart, after all, on condition that Nagasaki is nearer to China than Kobe or Yokohama; in the course of the sakoku interval, Nagasaki was the one Japanese port open to overseas ships.

Is it price going to Yokohama Chinatown?

Yokohama’s Chinatown is an superior place to go to, although I can perceive why you may not contemplate it price a day journey from Tokyo by itself. I typically like stopping right here within the night after a morning in Kamakura, or after I’ve spent the daylight at Yokohama’s Sankei-en backyard. 

The Backside Line

Chinatowns in Japan are the locations the place it’s best to watch Chinese language affect in trendy Japan, however that’s not the one place the place it’s seen. Even way back to the Jomon and Yayoi durations, Chinese language affect in Japan has been unattainable to mistake. Nevertheless, while you go to Chinatowns in Kobe, Yokohama or Nagasaki, you possibly can typically neglect that you just’re in Japan in any respect. That is to say nothing of Japanese delicacies like gyoza and ramen, which even have their origins in China. Want personalised assist placing your subsequent Japan journey collectively? Take into account hiring me to plan your itinerary!



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