Nagasaki Chinatown

Japan: Nagasaki (Lantern Festival) 長崎ランタンフェスティバル

Nagasaki City (長崎市) was home to Chinese sailors and traders during the 15th – 19th centuries and today boasts having the oldest Chinatown in Japan.  Known as Shinchi Chinatown, Nagasaki’s Chinatown exhibits a Chinese flair not felt in any of Japan’s other major cities.   Shinchi Chinatown with its 40 plus restaurants serving the signature Nagasaki noodle dishes, champon and sara udon, confectionary shops and souvenir stores, draws visitors from all over Japan. However, each year more people flock to Chinatown for one event in particular.  This event is the Nagasaki Lantern Festival (長崎ランタンフェスティバル).

The Nagasaki Lantern Festival was originally organized by the Chinese residents of Nagasaki to welcome the Chinese New Year. Arguably the largest Chinese festival in Japan, it takes place on the first day of January on the Lunar Calendar and continues for 15 days (With additional days added in February). Spread out across several city blocks and with seven different venues for viewing various performances throughout the day, the festival draws over one million visitors to the port city. Approximately 15,000 Chinese lanterns decorate Shinchi Chinatown and the surrounding areas and there are various events scheduled throughout the festival which should not be missed. These events include the Chinese Lantern Ornaments, the Mazu Procession, the Emperor’s Parade, the Dragon Dance, the Chinese Lion Dance, the Chinese Acrobatics and the Erhu Event. If you plan to arrive by train be sure to pick up a copy of the Nagasaki Lantern Festival program at the station!

There are various locations for viewing the lanterns but if you are pressed for time, try visiting the top venues: Chuo-koen, Minato-koen and Shinchi Chinatown. By far, these locations have the most elaborate displays of lanterns.

Do dress warmly for the event as the cold breezes off the ocean can chill you to the bone.

Location(s):                      Shinchi Chinatown, Chuo Koen, Tojin Yashiki, Kofukuji, Kaji-ichi, Haman-machi Arcade, Koushi-byou (Confucian Shrine)

Web Page:                        http://travel.at-nagasaki.jp/en/what-to-see/62/

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Japan: Nagasaki Prefecture (Nagasaki Peiron Boat Races)

Nagasaki City

Nagasaki City

One event where you can clearly see the influence of Chinese culture in Nagasaki City is during the annual Nagasaki Peiron Boat Races. The 359-year-old event was started by the Chinese people residing in the city as a way of offering prayers to the sea god.

In 1655, a severe storm struck Nagasaki Harbor sinking the Chinese vessels that were docked there. The Chinese locals borrowed boats and began racing them to appease the angry sea god. The boat races reached their pinnacle between 1603 and 1868. During that time, the race boats ranged in size from 65 feet to 148 feet. Today, the race boats are only 46 feet long and carry a team of 33 rowers.

Spurred on by taiko drums and gongs, the rowers propel the boats using 3 foot oars along a course that measures approximately 3,773 feet roundtrip. The Peiron Boat Races are held every year on the last weekend in July at the Matsugae Kokusai Kanko Futo Pier of Nagasaki Port. Various teams assemble from all over Japan to compete and include middle school students, workplace teams and even all girl teams.

As with all festivals in Japan, an array of food vendors are available and at the end of each day, there is a fireworks display.

The Matsugae Kokusai Kanko Futo Pier of Nagasaki Port is accessible via the JR Nagasaki Line. Exit at Nagasaki Station and take the municipal streetcar to Oura Tenshudo. The port is just 2 minutes away on foot from that point.

Nagasaki Chinatown

Nagasaki Chinatown

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For additional information contact: Tourist Information Center of the Japan National Tourist Organization. (10th floor, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan Bldg., 2-10-1, Yurakucho, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo; (03) 3201-3331).