Japan Center San Francisco – The Shopping Heart Of Japantown

Bring the serenity and peace of Japanese culture home from the Japan Center in San Francisco. The landmark shopping center — with its East Mall and West Mall — has fun and fabulous trinkets, noodle houses, sushi bars, Asian bakeries, a destination bookstore, and a peek into Japanese culture

The vast five-acre Japan Center is actually three shopping areas — Kinokuniya, Kintetsu, and Miyako, and is anchored by Books Kinokuniya and the Sundance Kabuki Cinema. Buchanan street, which leads to the main entrance, has been converted into a block-long pedestrian mall with flowering plum and cherry trees and cobbled streets to resemble a Japanese mountain village.

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Books Kinokuniya

Books Kinokuniya

Located in the Kinokuniya Building, the international bookstore chain has an extensive selection of Japanese-language books, manga graphic novels and English-language translations and books on many Japanese topics. Founded in 1927 in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Books Kinokuniya started importing English books in 1949. Twenty years later they opened their first overseas store, in San Francisco.

Sundance Kabuki

Sundance Kabuki

Sundance Kabuki was the first multiplex in San Francisco and has been an important venue for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. It was acquired by Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas and completely revitalized with reserved seating only.

More recently, it was sold to AMC Theatres, a Chinese group, but it's business as usual with regular film screenings. It's still a venue for the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival and the SF Independent Film Festival. The multiplex is a complete entertainment center with karaoke, a restaurant & bar, and an art gallery.

Kabuki Springs & Spa, Communal Baths

Kabuki Springs & Spa

In the tradition of Japanese public bathhouses, Kabuki's communal baths include a hot pool, cold pool, sauna. and steam room. There are individual bathing areas and a full selection of bath products like sea salts, chilled face cloths, and green teas. The communal baths are a peaceful place to rest, restore. and reconnect. There are also a complete list of East/West spa treatments — acupuncture, massage, facials. and a unique sushi & satori package for groups.

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PikaPika

PikaPika

Follow cool Japanese teenagers to PikaPika, where you step into a photo booth and then use magical effects to create unique photo creations. There are seven color photo booths to choose from. Each one has its own special features. Photos can be customized with different backgrounds — you can sit on an elephant, leap out of a washing machine, or turn into a sumo wrestler. Much like that other Japanese invention, karaoke, PikaPika allows people to be silly in a group setting.

Asakichi

Asakichi

Asakichi, the Japanese antiques and arts specialty group, includes four stores dotted through the malls. Shop for lightweight cotton or fine silk kimonos for men, women, children, and even special wedding kimonos. There's also a tiny Asakichi incense shop where you'll find tinkling wind chimes and Japanese cast iron tea pots. The main store carries a fine selection of of Noren (fabric room dividers or curtains), Shoji screens and Tansu (traditional cabinetry). Ask to have your purchases gift-wrapped in traditional Japanese washi paper.

Ichiban Kan

Ichiban Kan

Visit this delightful Japanese dollar store where you'll find fun Japanese kitchenware, toys, stuffed animals, tote bags decorated with hedgehogs, clear food storage systems in the shapes of fish and erasers shaped like sushi. You'll also find a complete range of cosmetics, unique storage systems and food items all imported from Japan.

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The Peace Pagoda – Dedicated to Eternal Peace

Peace Pagoda

Between the Miyako Mall and Kintetsu Building is the landmark, five-tier, 100-foot-tall Peace Pagoda. The pagoda draws on the 1,200-year-old tradition of miniature round pagodas. It was designed in the late 1960s by Yoshiro Taniguchi to convey friendship and goodwill from the people of Japan to the people of the United States.

About J-Town & J-Center

  • Founded in 1906, San Francisco's Japantown was the first Japanese-American community in the United States.
  • The Japan Center malls feature grocers, bakeries, restaurants, sushi bars, gift stores, jewelery, clothing boutiques, salons, and spas, all with a unique Asian spin.
  • The Japan Center formally opened in 1968 with much fanfare and the first annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The malls are found by the Peace Pagoda between Post and Geary Streets at Buchanan.
  • The complex was designed by American architect Minoru Yamasaki. You might not know that Yamasaki (1912-1986) also designed the New York World Trade Center and is considered to be one of the most important architects of the 20th century.
  • The Japan Center is located at the heart Japantown. Although the malls are the core of Japantown, you can also explore the neighborhood filled with Buddhist churches, a Zen temple & mission, a jiu jitsu studio and a Taiko Dojo studio that teaches the art of Japanese drumming by Grand master Seeichi Tanaka.
  • Hotels in the area include the historic Queen Anne Hotel, Hotel Majestic (the oldest continuously running hotel in San Francisco), Hotel Kabuki for an east/west experience, and Hotel Buchanan.

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Japan Center Resources

  • East Mall – 22 Peace Plaza
  • West Mall – 1737 Post Street
  • There are two parking garages: Japan Center Main Garage @ 1610 Geary Boulevard, and Fillmore Street Annex Garage @ 1650 Fillmore Street
  • Bus Lines #2 Clement or #3 Jackson: Japantown via Post/Sutter and exit at Sutter and Buchanan
  • Website

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