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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kobe - Chinatown

神戸南京町

Following a visit to the Kobe City Museum, we walked five minutes to Chinatown for some noisy shopping and lunch. The walk in itself was quite pleasant: tree-lined streets with old and new buildings--and even sidewalks. Whenever I come to Kobe I am also struck at how much lower the population density is compared to Kyoto. In contrast, though, the ratio of very well dressed people seems higher.

Kobe ChinatownBoth of those observations are upended as soon as we pass through the gates of Chinatown, or Nankinmachi. It was packed with Golden Week visitors in their best casual wear.

The area that became Chinatown has about 150 years of history. When the port of Kobe opened to foreign trade in 1868, immigrants from both Europe and China arrived. A settlement was set up for the former as a result of the peace treaties Japan had signed with various Western governments.

The Chinese immigrants, though, did not enjoy this privilege and had to settle in a neighboring part of the city.

Today there are roughly 8,000 Chinese-Japanese living in the city. Within Chinatown, some 100 restaurants and stores are in operation. There is also a Chinese style temple.

After members of our party vetoed a Cantonese restaurant ("too oily") and then a Szechuan place ("too spicy"), we all compromised and settled on a Beijing eatery.

The staff was all Chinese and the food was not the usual watered down tasteless fare you get in many restaurants in Japanese Chinatowns, for example in Yokohama and Nagasaki.

After lunch, we stopped in a snazzy ice cream place just inside the gate. Sated, we headed for home.

Access

From JR Motomachi Station, walk two blocks south.

Japanese Art - byobu screens

Japanese Art Books

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