San Francisco’s Japantown may cover a small area, but it is big on authentic Japanese culture. It’s one of only three Japantowns remaining in the United States, and San Francisco’s is the country’s oldest and largest. From architecture and shopping to events and cuisine, a walk through Japantown truly feels as if you’ve been transported to Japan.
Strolling through the neighborhood it’s hard to miss the five-storied Peace Pagoda, which was a gift from San Francisco’s sister city Osaka. It’s at the heart of the Peace Plaza, where it is easy to discover unique pieces of Japanese culture. There are a number of authentic shops and restaurants — many of which are located in the Japan Center, a large indoor shopping mall. Taste a number of different Japanese foods, or pick up ingredients from a Japanese grocer. The sights, sounds, and smells of Japantown are a rare chance to experience Japan outside of the country itself.
Japantown covers roughly six blocks in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. Its main street is Post, running from Fillmore Street in the west to Laguna Street on the east. Buses 2, 3, 4, and 38 will take you there (get off at Laguna or Buchanan). There is also a parking garage at Japan Center. Be sure to check if one of the many cultural events such as the Cherry Blossom Festival and J-Pop celebration are scheduled to take place during your visit.