Getaway to Japantown San Francisco

Reposted from About.com – California  Travel Section, By , About.com Guide

How to Spend a Day or a Weekend in Japantown San Francisco

Japantown San Francisco is a great place to go for a weekend to escape into a different culture without going very far.

Japanese settlement began here after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake forced people to move out of their residences in Chinatown and south of Market Street. Settling in the area called the Western Addition, they built churches and shrines and soon, the neighborhood’s Japanese shops and restaurants became a miniature Ginza known as Nihonmachi, or Japantown.

You can plan your Japantown San Francisco day trip or weekend getaway in a jiffy using the resources below.

Why Should You Go? Will You Like Japantown?

  • Japantown is a unique cultural opportunity, one of only a few Japantowns in the continental United States, along with Japantown in Los Angeles and San Jose.
  • If you enjoy shopping for unusual things, you’ll find tons of them in the Japantown shops.
  • One of the best things about Japantown San Francisco is that you can get there by public transportation or park your car in the Japantown Center Garage and just leave it there until you’re ready to go home.

Best Time to Go to Japantown

San Francisco weather is best in April and October, but most any time is fine to visit Japantown, especially since many of its attractions are indoors.

Don’t Miss

If you’ve only got a day, spend it walking around the Japantown Center, shopping and exploring.

4 More Great Things to Do in Japantown San Francisco

  • Take a Tour: San Francisco City Guides offers free walking tours of Japantown, a great way to learn more about the place. If you stay at the Hotel Kabuki, you can get a free tour with one of their Golden Gate Greeters.
  • Go to the Movies: We wouldn’t normally recommend this as a weekend getaway activity and the only thing Japanese about it is the name, but the Sundance Kabuki Theatre offers an extraordinarily pleasant film-going experience that’s far beyond your local multiplex.
  • Come Clean: Kabuki Hot Springs & Spa offers a unique opportunity to experience a Japanese-style bath experience, a very relaxing process that comes with an extremely reasonable price tag. They also offer massages at a good price.
  • Go Shopping: Shops in Japantown Center offer a wide range of Japanese goods, including books, ikebana flower-arranging supplies and housewares. Pika-Pika is always a hit with the girls, whwho like to use the Japanese photo booths to make silly stickers and photo stamps. Daiso is also a fun shopping stop. Think of it as a Japanese bargain shop, where you can find all kinds of fun and kitschy stuff for very affordable prices.

Annual Events You Should Know About

The Cherry Blossom Festival is in April and the Nihonmachi Street Fair happens in mid-August.

Best Bites in Japantown San Francisco

You’ll find lots of Japanese restaurants in Japantown Center, serving a variety of Japanese food styles. Check reviews of them at Yelp.com

For a fine evening of Japanese food and great jazz, Yoshi’s serves up both – and it’s only a few blocks away from Japantown Center.

Where to Stay in Japantown San Francisco

If you want to stay within the Japanese theme, you have a couple of options: Hotel Tomo, a cheerful place with anime-style wall paintings that the kids would love or the Hotel Kabuki in more laid-back, traditional Japanese style.

For help getting the best possible deal on these places or others, read about how to find a good place to stay, cheap.

Where Is Japantown San Francisco?

Japantown San Francisco is located west of San Francisco’s Union Square, just off Geary Blvd. at Fillmore Street.


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