Friday, February 18, 2011

Chinese New Year event, Yokohama

(In the shrine grounds, looking towards the street.)

The Chinese New Year started on Feb. 3 this year. The general practice is to celebrate for 15 days, meaning that the last day of the celebrations was the 17th. Because Yokohama has a large Chinese community, and that I really like visiting Chinatown and eating at the restaurants, I wanted to go this time if the opportunity arose. However, because my off days are Thursday and Friday, it kind of limited my options. Having it snow one day and rain another made it look like I'd have to wait another year. Couple this with a prediction of heavy rain on the 17th and my chances seemed to be dropping to zero. However, at 3 PM on Thursday, the sky was still relatively clear so we took a shot at the one-hour train-ride in to Yokohama, in order to arrive just before the closing dance at one of the major shrines in Chinatown.

(Setting up the candles on the steps leading to the shrine.)

At the shrine, we bought 5 sticks of incense, which were to be put into 5 different urns, then prayed at the central altar in the main building. Back out front, we only needed to wait a few more minutes before the dance started. The crowd wasn't really all that packed, but there were cars constantly going along the street, meaning that the area right in front of the stairs was elbow-to-elbow. The dance lasted about 5 minutes, and there was a lot of applause. All of the cameras started flashing as well, even though the announcer had asked people to avoid using flashes if possible (granted, it was getting dark by then).

(As the dance starts.)

We continued on down to Yamashita Park a few blocks away, stopping at the bar in the Marine Tower to take advantage of Happy Hour (330 yen drinks until 7 PM). This was followed by a stroll through the park to the Red Brick Warehouse, and pasta dinner at Madu Cafe (the Disaronno Amaretto I had with the meal was very good; the house wines, not so much). Another stroll back to Minato Mirai station then led to the 1-hour train ride back home. Unfortunately, we got in at 10 PM, when all of the coffee shops were closed. So, we stopped at MOS Burger for coffee, onion/fries and a piece of crispy chicken for a snack.

(No, it's not a blown shot. One of the poses is to hide behind the fans at different times.)

A light drizzle started to form at this point, and at 1 AM, as I am writing this right now, there's a really heavy downpour outside. Guess the forecast was right, more or less. On the other hand, with the new year celebrations now over, I can stay indoors tomorrow (Friday), sleep and ignore whatever rain there is.

(The crowd along the street. Probably no more than 200 people at this point.)

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