Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yokohama Chukagai (Yokohama Chinatown)

Our trip with Grandma this week:  Yokohama's China Town.

Yokohama Chukagai is the largest Chinatown in Asia, and one of the largest in the world.  When the seaport opened in Yokohama in 1859 a lot of Chinese people immigrated to Japan and settled here, building schools, shops, and restaurants.  After the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, which killed over 100,000 people in the Kanto region, including some in the Chinese settlements, many of the Chinese settlers returned to China instead of rebuilding in Yokohama.  After the China-Japan War in 1937, Chinese immigrants began to slowly move back to the area.  The place exploded, and although not as many people live in the area, there are tons of restaurants (over 200) and Chinese shops lining the tight, colorful streets.

Suzakoman - South Gate
     I read that Suzaku is the vermillion bird (a red bird that looks like a pheasant and is covered in flames), one of the Four Symbols of Chinese constellations, and represents the fire-element, the direction south, and the season of summer.

Vermillion Bird

This is on the very top of the gate.
I guess it's the fire element

These were in the sidewalk all around Chinatown
Yokohama Ma Zhu Miao --  This temple is dedicated to Ma Zhu Miao, the "Holy Mother of Heaven".  According to their pamphlet, she was born in 960 A.D.  She was said to be an intelligent girl who chanted prayer to Buddha every morning and evening at the age of 10.  When she was 16 she was given a God's doctrine and a copper label....not too sure what that means.  The pamphlet goes on to say that she expelled wickedness, turned away evil, put out misfortune and cured diseases.  She passed away at the age of 28 and was often "witnessed flying over the sea in a red costume and helping people even after death."

This was a very colorful, beautiful temple

Tile work at the top of the stairs

Animals in high relief

These high relief displays circled the whole
main section of the temple.

I couldn't take pictures in the temple.  So, Mackenzie
volunteered to draw me a picture.
Guess who got a notebook and carrying case
for her travel backpack for her birthday??!!  :)

This was my favorite

There were soooo many restaurants and shops along every road.  This would be a great place for adults, or families who don't have picky eaters.  The kids wouldn't eat anything here, but the smell of the yummy food made them hungry, so they kept begging for snacks...none of which they wanted from the food stalls on the street.

Coolest entrance to a store.

 I have no idea which gate this is.  I took pictures of all the gates we came to, but only two turned out ok.  The others were totally black (guess we'll have to go back :).  I need to pay attention to where the sun is when I take the pictures next time.

There were some pretty interesting displays in the restaurant cases...

Mackenzie:  "I definitely do NOT want to eat here!"

Taking a stroll with some strangers...

After Chinatown we headed to Yamashita Park.  We came here with the Kings a few months ago and saw beautiful flowers.  We hoped to see many more today, but there weren't many.  This park is 700 meters long and was landfilled in the 30's with rubble from the Great Kanto Earthquake.

Statue of Protectorate God of Water  -  this was a gift from San Diego, Yokohama's sister city

The Girl with Red Shoes Statue
  Apparently, there was a little girl who was given to American missionaries around 1905 because her mother could not afford to care for her the way she believed the little girl deserved to be cared for.  Just as the missionaries were about to leave Japan they found out the little girl, named Kimi, had TB and would not survive the trip across the ocean.  The family left the girl with a church where she died a few years later.  The girl's mother told her story to a friend and then the song below was written in memory of Kimi.

A little girl nice in her pretty red shoes
Has gone far away, taken by a foreigner

She has gone with him to his home.
I wonder if her eyes are blue like a foreigner's.

From the port of Yokohama, over the waves,
I wonder if she is happy and has nice days.

I remember her when I see pretty red shoes.
I wonder how she is when I meet a foreigner.

He was trying to catch the pigeons

Drawing the statue for me

We walked half the length of the park then turned to
go back to the train station.  The kids insisted we
go back through the park to the train station
we arrived on.  I chose this route because the
trees were pretty.  They thought it was boring.
 The Boy has mastered riding the train like the locals.  :)  He even spasmed and punched the guy next to him....the guy didn't budge.  I'm pretty sure that happens often on the trains here.

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