Golden Week and Chinatown in Yokohama

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For those familiar with Japan, you’ll know about Golden Week. It’s the time the whole country is on holiday. As much as that’s possible as most places remain open and the hospitality is run off its feet. It began on Sunday here, and well it finished today. So it’s not much of a week really, is it? But there was a holiday last week too, Friday I think it was. If you count Saturday, well we’re getting closer.

It just so happens that three holidays fall so close to each other it’s cause for celebration, and people relax and visit family and actually take time off. People in Japan are lucky to take a week off every year as holiday – work and the company is King! And certainly no one is demanding people take time off. Between school years even – the teachers look forward to the two days off they are going to take!

So it’s time for celebrations and festivals and visiting temples. That’s your modus operandi in Japan for a holiday. And spending time with family of course.

In Japan, China means many things. One of those things is 'Pandas! Kawaii!'

In Japan, China means many things. One of those things is ‘Pandas! Kawaii!’

For the foreign tourist, though, despite usually great weather, I can’t advise spending Golden Week in Japan. It’s usually around the start of May, for reference, as it is this year. Simply put, everything is packed. I was in Tokyo on Sunday and it was insane! Seriously. Secondly – good luck on finding a bed. And one at a decent price, you’ll need more good luck! I had trouble booking for April when I first came to Japan in 2011, and I tried booking in January. It was NOT Golden Week that I was planning on being here for either!

One of the many gates in Yokohama's China Town.

One of the many gates in Yokohama’s China Town.

Yokohama has a Chinatown, not far from the baseball stadium, best reached from Kannai station. It’s a nice area, and on Monday it was pretty popular, with many of the food vendors having long lines up to a hundred people in some instances wanting to buy their street food. I went there with the extended ‘in-laws’.

Masobyo.

Masobyo.

It’s quite pretty, and it’s the most pristine Chinatown I have seen in my life. Everything looked like it had been painted recently, and I didn’t hear a word of Chinese but I am sure there a few Chinese people there. Palm Reading and Fortune Telling were both very popular. We visited two temples – Masobyo and Kantaribyo. Bother actually really nice places, lots of prayers being offered and incense burning. Both had really impressive gates too. Paintwork, as I said, looked pristine.

Kantaribyo

Kanteibyo

Dinner was at a Chinese restaurant, and for me it wasn’t so great. I was told that basically everything on the menu was cooked in peanut oil, and being ‘Allergy Boy’, I was in trouble. I had to settle for a bowl of pork ramen noodles. Without the pork, cooked in peanut oil before being added to the bowl. Such is life I guess. I was the odd one out in more ways than one as the table of ten talked and talked, quickly and in Japanese. I don’t like big groups anyways! So I took out my phone and tried to take the perfect panoramic picture of them. I failed.

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Tomorrow it’s a double barrel podcast when I am joined by James Patrus and Miho Terui, and in the evening folks, I’ll be boarding a plane to head home to Melbourne. I should be scheduling a post for both Saturday and Sunday, so do check back. Amazing to think this adventure is coming to close! Thanks as always for reading!

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