10 February, 2011

Spring Festival in Chinatown

 Eastern Asian countries such as China and Korea celebrate the lunar New Year. Along with Yokohama and Nagasaki, Nankinmachi in Kobe is one of the 3 biggest Chinatowns in the country, and a huge New Year celebration called Shunsetsusai, or Spring Festival, was held from February 3rd to the 6th.

                     Seian Gate of Nankinmachi in Kobe               Shunsetsusai 

  Every year, traditional Chinese dragon dances and lion dances can be seen at the festival.
  According to the ancient Chinese aesthetics of Feng-shui, it is believed that there’s a road that “qi” energy flows through, which is called Ryu-myaku, or the dragon line. Controlling Ryu-myaku is believed to bring happiness and prosperity, so many believe that is the reason for the origin of dragon dancing. People believe that lions guard the entrance to their homes, so the Lion dance is believed to scare away evil spirits and bring good fortune.  

  On the first day of the festival, people dressed up as important characters from Chinese history and a costume parade was held. Also, a lion went around to the stores to collect donations, or otoshidama, and there was the traditional Chinese art of senshi and other crafts on sale. With many stores and events, the festival was a great success.

          Dragon Dance                                 Lion Dance

  Nankinmachi has many delicious restaurants, stores with Chinese ingredients, and many stores that create a gourmet shopping street. It is located in the central part of a modern city, but when you take a step inside Nankinmachi, especially during their biggest event of the year, you’ll feel like you’re really walking through China. I hope you’ll be in town for the next year’s New Year celebration!
Nankinmachi Link http://www.nankinmachi.or.jp/

Nankinmachi Spot Link
Hana (Hyogo Tourism Association)