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Japantown, San Francisco Travel Guide

Japantown Summary


  • The Nihonmachi Mall and the Japan Center (open until midnight), an Asian-oriented shopping mall with a fun network of arcades, squares, and bridges
  • The fantastic Kabuki Springs & Spa
  • Beautiful architecture, notably at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, the Konko Church of San Francisco, and the Sokoji-Soto Zen Buddhist Temple
  • Numerous cheap and delicious noodle shops, Asian restaurants, and teahouses
  • Multiplex movie theater
  • Japanese music, dance, and other cultural performances on most weekends in the summer
  • Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (early April)
  • Nihonmachi Street Fair (August)


  • Far from the waterfront, and some of San Francisco's most famous tourist sites
  • If you're not into Japanese culture and cuisine, there's not much for you here

What It's Like

In 1906, following a devastating earthquake, Japanese immigrants began moving from Chinatown to the neighborhood now known as Japantown (or Nihonmachi). A century later, few Japanese people actually live in the area -- the result of WWII- and Cold War-era internment and, more recently, urban renewal -- but they do still come here to shop. Fun and funky toy stores, Japanese booksellers, traditional and eclectic restaurants (some Korean and Chinese), and some innovative architecture has transformed the area into something that looks like a smaller, less-crowded version of the Ginza district in Tokyo.

Where To Stay

The most notable advantage to staying in Japantown is that you can find a fun, funky boutique hotel for a great price. The two most notable options are the Best Western Tomo and the Hotel Kabuki.

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