Kobe's Chinatown 神戸中華街
The red-lit streets of Nankinmachi
A square in Kobe's Chinatown.
A Chinese gate in Kobe's Chinatown.
After the reopening of Japanese ports in 1853, foreign traders arrived once more on Japanese soil. Several foreign communities then settled in Kobe, a port city that was in full expansion mode even before the time of sakoku, the closing of the country to foreigners, in 1641-1853.
In 1868, the small Chinese enclave that had developed near the port adopted the name of Nankinmachi (南京町), literally the city of Nanjing. The local people started called the Chinese merchants there "people of Nanjing".
An immortal area
Destroyed by bombing in the Second World War, Kobe's Chinatown wasted no time in regaining its former activity.
Later, the major earthquake in 1995 destroyed Nankinmachi once again. But like before, the area quickly rose from the ashes. It currently has nearly 10,000 residents.
Nankinmachi today stands out as one of the main attractions of the city of Kobe.
With its streets lined with restaurants, Nankinmachi is the ideal place to sample delicious Chinese specialties. Arches, pavilions, traditional Chinese souvenir shops, mahjong clubs, glowing Chinese lanterns... All this gives the area a buzzing atmosphere.During the festivities of Chinese New Year, the Nankinmachi area comes alive with the rhythm of traditional dances and vibrant parades. It's hugely popular event with visitors to the city!