Japantown – The Place To Visit For A Taste Of Asian Culture

We urge you to take a little time to discover Japantown, a gateway to Asian culture in one of the last surviving Japanese neighborhoods in North America, found just one mile away from Union Square, between Octavia and Fillmore Streets. Japantown is referred to as J-Town by the locals and it's home to many of the 12,000 Japanese San Franciscans.

The neighborhood is dominated by the Japan Center, an enormous complex of stores, theaters, sushi bars and restaurants. It's punctuated by the 100-foot-high Peace Pagoda with five tiers (odd numbers bring good luck). On Bush Street is the Konko Kyo Temple, founded in 1859. Konko is a sect of Shinto, a form of Japanese ancestral worship.

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A Taste of Japantown

A Taste of Japantown

Visit the culturally-rich neighborhood of Japantown and discover its culinary secrets. Take an afternoon walk with your culinary guide to discover hidden locations offering the finest Japanese delicacies. You also learn about the dynamic history of one of the last surviving Japanese neighborhoods in America.

You stop at half a dozen locations to taste specialties like traditional rice balls (onigiri), Japanese pizza (Osaka-style okonomiyaki), savory Asian salads, and authentic rice cakes (mochi). You even sample a special latté made from sweet potato as well as a Japanese tea tasting.

After your walking smorgasbord, you stop to have a sit-down udon noodle soup made from dashi soup stock and handmade noodles. You hear from shop and restaurant owners and learn firsthand about the traditions of Japanese food. If you love Japanese food, don't miss this fun tour!

The Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossom Festival

Japantown hosts the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival in April to celebrate the traditional customs and rich heritage of Japanese Americans. The neighborhood fills with huge taiko drums and martial arts demonstrations, while wafting in the air are delicious aromas from the food bazaar.

The Cherry Blossom Parade is led by hundreds of samurai, musicians, and dozens of young Nisei carrying portable shrines hoisted on their shoulders. The parade is reigned over by Miss Cherry Blossom. The Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the temporary beauty of the blossoms and reminds us of the temporary nature of our existence.

Japantown – How to Get There

Japantown

Just one mile west of Union Square, Japantown is easy to reach by bus, car or on foot.

If you're traveling by bus, take the #38 on Geary Street (from Union Square) or the #2, #3, #4 on Sutter Street and exit on Laguna. If you're driving from the Golden Gate Bridge, take the Lombard Street exit, then turn right on Webster and keep going until Post Street.

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Hotel Kabuki – A Great Place to Stay in Japantown

Hotel Kabuki

Stay in a Japanese-inspired lodging with zen-like comfort and serene style.

Deluxe rooms include traditional Japanese soaking tubs and the Deluxe King rooms are on the higher floors with great city views and sliding glass doors. If you're in need of extra pampering sign up for their Oooh-Aaah-Spaah package which includes a restorative massage (for two) at the Kabuki Springs & Spa (just down the street from Hotel Kabuki).

San Francisco's Japantown — History

History

San Francisco was the entry point and historical gateway for Japanese immigrants as early as the 1800s. However, it wasn't until after the 1906 Earthquake that Japantown was permanently established at its current location.

Once a sprawling neighborhood covering over 30 blocks, its growth came to a sudden halt during World War II with the evacuation and forced internment of Japanese American citizens. After the war, many families did not return to San Francisco and those who did found their homes and businesses no longer belonged to them.

Japantown has prospered due to the Issei, the first generation of Japanese immigrants and the Nisei, their American-born children. With renewed vitality and interest, Japantown has recently been undergoing renovations, including updating the Kabuki Theater and the Hotel Kabuki.

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