Out of the three main Chinatowns in Japan, the Nagasaki Chinatown is the oldest. With the closing of Japan to most foreign trade from the 17th to 19th centuries, Chinese merchants were forced to trade with their Japanese counterparts from Tojin Yashiki, an area that would later develop into today’s Chinatown. While the city’s Dejima district is famous for facilitating Dutch trade during Japan’s era of seclusion, the historical Chinese Quarters had both a larger population and a greater volume of trade.
Chinatown covers about 250 square meters of the downtown core and contains roughly 40 shops and restaurants.
There are four primary entrances and each is marked by a massive gate and an accompanying guardian figure. On the north end resides a black tortoise, an azure dragon to the east, a vermillion bird on the south side and a white tiger at the western gate.
Sampling Nagasaki’s Specialty Foods
As you make your way around Chinatown, why not explore the restaurants for some local specialties that blend Chinese and Japanese influences? In the early 20th century, a Chinese restaurant owner created a dish drawing on Fujian cuisine that was cheap for Chinese students studying abroad in Nagasaki.
The result was chanpon, a noodle dish combining seafood, pork and vegetables in lard before being joined with thick noodles and a pork-based broth. Check out the famous main branch of Kozanro to try the popular dish!
Sara udon, another Nagasaki specialty dish, has fried vegetables, such as bean sprouts, Chinese cabbage and other vegetables accompanying pork and seafood on a bed of fried noodles. Pop into the Taiwanese restaurant Lao Lee to taste the rich flavors of this nostalgic dish.
Nagasaki Lantern Festival
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