Just a few short minutes walk south of Motomachi station you can find Kobe’s very own Chinatown, known as Nankinmachi, nestled amongst the buildings next to the Daimaru Department store.
The area has a long history dating back to 1868, when the ports opened up to foreigners and saw the subsequent settlement of Chinese immigrants. A large number of these settlers had come from the former Chinese capital of Nanjing – pronounced as Nankin in Japanese – hence the name “Nankinmachi” which literally translates to “Nanjing Town”.
Guarded by the elaborately decorated Chang'an Gate in the east, Xi'an Gate in the west, the Nanlou Gate in the south and a pair of lions in the north, Nankinmachi houses roughly 10,000 residents and features over 100 Chinese restaurants, mahjong clubs and shops.
The bustling atmosphere and promise of some extra tasty cuisine from one of the welcoming street vendors makes Nankinmachi one of Kobe’s most popular tourist attraction landmarks.
Although the neighborhood makes for a great place to visit no matter what time of year, the whole area starts to literally shine during the winter season when the streets are illuminated by traditional Chinese lanterns at the Nankinmachi Lantern Fair.
Normally the lantern festival makes for a great additional event to check out alongside Kobe’s Luminarie memorial light up, but with the latter having been cancelled this year to curb the potential spread of COVID-19, Nankinmachi’s Lantern Festival is going at it alone.
Held every year at the pavilion in the center of the neighborhood, the Nankinmachi Lantern Fair sees more than 400 Chinese lanterns glisten in the square with a warm gentle glow that offers a different atmosphere from that of Christmas illuminations.
Giving the usual lighting ceremony and mini-jazz concert a miss, this year’s event is all about the lighting and the atmosphere.
If you’re looking for a unique and alternative event to brighten up your winter, head on over to Kobe’s Nankinmachi for the light up event which will be running from the 3rd of December 2021 until the 10th of January 2022. Just make sure to arrive after 4:00pm, as that’s when the lights are turned on.
Dates: Until Jan 10, 2022
Light up time: 16:00 (coinciding with sunset) – 22:00
Admission fee: free
Read more stories from grape Japan.
- External Link