The Japantown neighborhood of San Francisco was founded in 1906 and has a notable history. This area has a significant cultural heritage because it is the oldest of the three Japantown’s that are still present in the United States.
There are numerous interesting adventures waiting for you in this small yet vibrant community. As you browse the neighborhood shops, let the charm of genuine Japanese food and distinctive presents draw you in. A Japantown History Walk offers insightful information for people who are interested in the area’s past. As an alternative, you can relax and find peace at the peaceful Peace Plaza.
The Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the most fascinating festivals, is held annually in Japantown. This event, which takes place over two weekends in April, presents a wonderful chance to learn more about the wonders of Japanese culture.
The Best Attractions and Activities Unveiled
Let’s get into some notable highlights, highlighting some of my personal favorite things to do and places to see in Japantown.
1. There Are Many Genuine Japanese Goods
The large shopping complex that serves as the hub of Japantown is home to a wide variety of Japanese retailers that appeal to different interests. Visitors are consistently entranced by the wide variety of items, which vary from traditional clothing to engaging literature.
The main shopping area is the sprawling, almost two blocks long Japan Centre Mall, which is constantly busy. Visit the East and West Malls of the Japan Centre, which are conveniently located at 1737 Post Street, for a wonderful shopping experience.
2. Savoury Japanese Cuisine Delights
Culinary connoisseurs can choose from a variety of authentic Japanese restaurants inside the Japan Centre. Learn about the thriving Restaurant Row located inside the West Mall of Japan Centre, where you may savor delectable flavors.
Take a meal tour for a more in-depth and seasoned gastronomic experience. With the help of an experienced local cuisine guide, you will explore San Francisco’s Japantown and sample six to seven delicious traditional Japanese meals. These pleasant three-hour long walking culinary tours are offered on most Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 11 AM.
You may be sure that your visit to Japantown San Francisco will be an exciting one filled with culinary delights and cultural riches. Get lost in this energetic neighbourhood and make treasured moments that will last a lifetime.
3. Relax in Serene Plaza and be amazed by the Peace Pagoda.
The serene Peace Plaza is tucked away between the Japan Center’s East and West Malls. This courtyard, which spans a whole block, is a perfect haven for relaxation. With plenty of seats, it’s also a great place to enjoy a leisurely meal or just take in the lively environment.
The Japantown San Francisco Peace Pagoda is a famous feature that graces this area. The Peace Pagoda was given to the citizens of San Francisco in 1968 as a gift by the city of Osaka, Japan, and has since grown to be an integral feature of the Peace Plaza.
4. Take a Trip Down Japantown’s Heritage Pathway
By taking a self-guided historic walking tour, you may further immerse yourself in Japantown San Francisco’s rich past. This educational tour includes a number of stops in the Japantown neighborhood, each of which is marked by a large plaque that describes the location’s historical events.
The first plaque, which begins from the eastern side of the Peace Plaza, provides a succinct history of the area and a sneak preview of the tour’s stunning attractions. The path is clearly marked, and each plaque has the name, address, and a little map directing you to the following station. It is not essential to make plans in advance to take this fascinating walking tour.
5. Watch a movie at the Kabuki Theatre
My top pick for a movie theatre in San Francisco is the Sundance Kabuki Movie Theatre, which is located in Japantown. This multiple-screen theatre frequently shows both fascinating independent films and critically recognized blockbusters.
The Kabuki Theatre recently underwent renovations, and as a result, it offers roomy, comfy seats, taking movie-going to new levels of delight. Some of the theatres even provide a food and beverage service in their balcony section, which includes a selection of wines and beers. This theatre is conveniently located at the corner of Post and Fillmore Streets.
Festival of Cherry Blossoms in San Francisco
In San Francisco’s Japantown, the Cherry Blossom Festival takes place every year and is one of the biggest occasions. It marks the beginning of cherry blossom season and provides a chance to honor Japanese culture.
Indulge in authentic Japanese cuisine, enjoy Japanese music, and watch mesmerizing Japanese folk dancers during this two-weekend festival. The festival also includes performances by Taiko Drummers, informative Tea Ceremony demonstrations, and many other things.
Additional Important Annual Events in Japantown
Origami Palooza: An exciting one-day event where fans may display their best origami masterpieces. It also provides the opportunity to take part in interesting competitions and learn from professionals. usually takes place in mid-June.
- Japan Day is a joyous street festival honoring San Francisco’s Japantown. The middle of July is typically when this one-day celebration takes place.
- Japan Film Festival: An extraordinary nine-day festival held in July that only features films with a Japanese or Japanese-themed theme. The majority of films have subtitles in both English and Japanese.
- The lovely two-day Nihonbashi Street Fair celebrates the rich Pan-Pacific American community. Live music performances, delectable cuisine, and a variety of entertaining activities are all available to visitors. Usually takes during the first weekend in August.
- Bring your kids to the Japantown Centre Malls for their annual Halloween trick-or-treating event during this spooktacular Halloween event. It provides children with a secure and entertaining setting where they may gather sweets, explore a bounce house, get their faces painted, and more. For information on the date and details for this year, see the Halloween for kids page.
There are a number of excellent options for lodging close to the centre of Japantown San Francisco. These are the top picks, in order:
- Address for the Kimpton Hotel Enso is 1800 Sutter St.
- Room rates: In the winter, they start about $190 per night; in the summer, they go up to $270 or more.
In Japantown, The Buchanan is a contemporary three-star hotel that is only a block from Peace Plaza. It offers 125 modern rooms.
A fitness center, business center, and free high-speed Internet access are available as hotel facilities. The hotel has a bar and restaurant on site, and suites are also offered.
Find the best deals on Kimpton Hotel Enso in Japantown by comparing prices.
- Location of Hotel Kabuki: 1625 Post Street
- Price ranges for accommodations: Starting from $189 in the winter and $295 or more in the summer.This 3.5-star hotel is ideally located in Japantown and offers a fantastic location in addition to roomy, spotless accommodations.
The hotel also features a number of regional features, such as exquisite Japanese courtyard gardens that are located in the middle of the property.
Hotel Kabuki welcomes pets and gives all visitors access to its well-stocked business center. It has a total of 218 rooms. Additionally, there is a gym on the property, and each room has free high-speed internet access.
- Location of The Queen Anne Hotel: 1590 Sutter St.
- The cost of lodging starts around $145 per night during the winter and goes up to about $199 or more during the summer.The three-star Queen Anne Hotel, which is only two streets east of the Peace Plaza, is another popular choice close to Japantown.
Each room at this boutique hotel has a unique design that makes the interior visually appealing. You may take advantage of complimentary breakfast, high-speed internet access, and room service while staying at this beautiful Victorian hotel. Additionally, the hotel has a business center and suites are available.
Going out of Union Square
From Union Square, there are numerous routes that lead to Japantown in San Francisco. The bus is by far the most practical form of transportation, given there isn’t much parking nearby. The top three choices are listed below:
Option 1: Geary Bus Route 38
This bus offers multiple pick-up locations while travelling along Market Street. Travel east of Japan Centre on the bus until you arrive at the Geary and Laguna stop. As the 38L has fewer stops than the standard 38, please make sure to board that vehicle instead.
Option 2: Route 2 of the bus Sutter Street, a short distance from Union Square, is where Sutter Buses on the 2 Sutter route can be accessed. Up until the Sutter and Buchanan stop, take the bus. The Japan Centre and the Peace Plaza are just a quick one-block south (down the hill) stroll away from there.
Third option: Leaving Fisherman’s Wharf
- The 49 bus is your best bet if you’re starting your journey from Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch the bus at the intersection of North Point Street and Van Ness Avenue at Fisherman’s Wharf’s western terminus. Take the bus until you arrive at the Van Ness and Sutter Streets crossroads. You have two options from here:
- a) By foot: This bus stop is about five blocks from the Peace Plaza. To get to Post Street, just proceed one more block down Van Ness Street. The Japantown signage can be seen if you continue to travel west on Post Street.
- b) Change to the 2 bus: Another option is to change to a different bus at the Van Ness and Sutter Streets crossroads. Locate the bus number 2, which will take you to the Sutter and Buchanan stop after four blocks. From there, it takes just one block to descend a hill and arrive at Japantown’s central area.
Hello there! I’m Dennis, and I am delighted to welcome you to San Francisco Discovery Guide. As a lifelong resident of this magnificent city, I am thrilled to share my love and knowledge of San Francisco with fellow adventurers like yourself.
Growing up amidst the breathtaking landscapes, eclectic neighborhoods, and vibrant culture of San Francisco, I developed a deep appreciation for the city’s unique charm. Over the years, I’ve explored its nooks and crannies, uncovered hidden gems, and created countless unforgettable memories.