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Yokoso Japan: Yokohama

     Yokohama could barely be called a town 150 years ago, but after being established as an international port, it quickly grew into small city divided into two halves--one for the Japanese and the other for international residents. In the middle of the international side,
Chinese immigrants established a few shops and restaurants in the late 1800's in the area that is Chinatown (Chukagai) today. Now Japan's largest port, the Minato Mirai waterfront area, has recently emerged as the newest jewel of the city, boasting of an amusement park, Japan's tallest building, and at night some of the most gorgeous views in Japan. A rail spur called the Minato Mirai line runs from Shibuya to Yokohama just under 30minutes.
 
Yokohama China Town
 
    The Chinese presence in Yokohama dates back to 1859 when the port was opened to foreign merchants. Ships arrived to trade with the Japanese from America, Europe and also China. Foreigners were allowed to live only in certain areas of the city, and the Chinese established themselves in what is today known as Chinatown. The inflow of Chinese was brisk because of a ferry service that operated between Yokohama, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
    However, the population dwindled in the 1920's, after the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 devastated the city, causing many Chinese to return to the mainland. The outbreak of war in 1937 decimated the community that remained and the area remained a backwater until 1972, when Japan established diplomatic relations with China. The event caused a surge of interest in all things Chinese, and the emergence of Yokohama Chinatown as a major domestic tourist by the Minato Mirai line, a branch of the Tokyu Toyoko line that runs directly from Shibuya.

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