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Lunar New Year Celebrated in Various Chinatowns in Japan; Lion Dances, Lantern Festival Held

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A lion dance performance is seen in Yokohama Chinatown on Saturday in Yokohama.

Lunar New Year celebrations have started in areas where Chinatowns are located. On Saturday, a lion dance was held in Yokohama Chinatown in Naka Ward, Yokohama. Lions in the bright colors of blue and gold stopped by restaurants and general merchandise stores and danced fiercely to the sounds of gongs and taiko drums.

According to the Yokohama Chinatown Development Association, the purpose of the lion dance is to drive away evil and bad luck, so the event was also held wishing for the speedy recovery of areas affected by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake. An 8-year-old boy from Aoba Ward in the city smiled and said, “The sound was lively and exciting.” This is the first Lunar New Year since COVID-19 was reclassified to a Category V disease. The association expects a total turnout of about 1 million people until Feb. 24, the same level as before the pandemic.

Lantern festival in Nagasaki

The Nagasaki Lantern Festival, which celebrates Lunar New Year and is a winter tradition in Nagasaki, started on Friday. A lighting ceremony for the main lantern, a ten-meter-tall installation at Minato Park, was held on Saturday.

This year’s main lantern is inspired by the zodiac sign of the dragon, depicting carps transforming into a dragon, which symbolizes success and progress obtained through effort.

During the lighting ceremony, the lights were being turned on for all the lanterns and installations, elicited cheers from the audience. About 15,000 lanterns and installations in red, pink, yellow and other colors will decorate Minato Park and various locations in the city until Feb. 25.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A lantern shaped like nine carps transforming into a dragon is seen in Nagasaki on Saturday.

Lion dance in Kobe

In Kobe’s Chinatown, the Spring Festival began on Saturday. A lion dance was performed, attracting many tourists. The festival will run until Monday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People watch a lion dance in Kobe on Saturday.