There are three official Japan towns in the US, and San Francisco largest of them. The town is known as the
hub of Japanese culture, and it is easy to see why this is so.
Japan is not different from other Asian countries where culture is highly held. And if you have ever come across
these cultures, you should know how important they are. They are represented in every country as unique.
San Francisco stands as one of the best tourist attractions in San Francisco. It is there vital that you understand
the town to get around with ease. Getting the best out of your vacation here will depend on how best you understand
the town. This guide will make your visit worth the time and the money.
Where Are the Four Official Japantowns in the United States?
There are four official Japantowns in the United Sates.
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
Sawtelle, West Los Angeles, California
Other Japanese Areas to Visit in the United Sates.
Seattle Japantown (Not Designated)
Bainbridge Island, Seattle
Where is San Francisco Japantown Located on a Map
Map of San Francisco, California, Japantown
Before You Visit Japantown - Don't Forget To Bring the Following
Metro FastTrak Transponder for Car - Access to Freeway Lanes (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
• Phone Holder for your car
• Phone Charger, extra phone cables
• Camera, batteries, video camera
• Clothing: Jacket & pants (Fall Weather), walking shoes
• Cash: some places only accept cash
• Coins: street parking meters
History of San Francisco Japantown
The writing of San Francisco dates back to as old as 1855, starting with Van Ness Ordinance. The now Japantown (Nihomachi)
was not always a habitat for the Japanese from the beginning. The neighborhood stands about one mile west of the Union
Square and is part of the San Francisco's Western Addition. This subdivision also started appearing at the same time.
Before this, the land was barren and sandy. There were no people in the area, and the only sign of life was small animals
like bobcats, rabbits, quail, and chaparral. In the 1870s, San Franciscans started occupying the area. Slowly by slowly,
more people started finding the place worth of occupation.
The first signs of human life and development started with different types of homes. But the Victorian influence was
predominant in the region. The Western Addition was bordered to the East by the Van Ness Avenue was served as the
breakpoint of the 1906 fire caused by the great earthquake witnessed then. That was one of the biggest tragedies
of hit the neighborhood, causing the displacement of very many people.
The Western Addition, fortunately, remained intact. It was completely unaffected by the fire. And for that reason, it
served as a haven for the bulk of those whose homes were burned. At this time, the population was even thinner since
most had perished in the fire. The nearby parks served as a great area for erecting tent villages to provide emergency
accommodation for the victims. The following few months saw these crowded families moving into small apartments built
by the Western Addition homeowners. They took on in the attics, basements, and wings of their homes making the place
overcrowded. Property owners started raising their houses and added stores under them. Apart from the homes, the need
for commercial building created a business community alongside the homes.
People from different places came in to stay with this community that was already too crowded. This is where the mixed
land use started from. Later, restaurants, theatres, saloons, and hotels started coming up in the area. As it was to
be expected, the area was now fully functioning as a business hub. This attracted more visitors to join the community
which never stopped growing after that.
When Did the Japanese First Come to San Francisco?
This is the most important question when unveiling the history of this Japantown. Why is it called Japantown? The
Japanese refer to San Francisco as Soko, and the first person from Japan arrived here in the 1860s. At that time,
Chinatown served as the home for most Asians. The neighborhoods south of Market Street, which includes South Park
and the whole area surrounding the current San Francisco Shopping Centre, were also a place for the Asians. Most
Japanese who came to the US become more acquainted with these areas.
When the earthquake broke in 1906, the aftermath was so devastating that they were forced to move from their homes
and occupying the Western Addition. More and more Japanese started moving here, building churches and shrines. They
typically opened Japanese shops and restaurants which soon established roots. Because of this, the neighborhoods become
more Japanese, taking on the character and style of the Japanese culture. Before long, the area becomes a miniature Ginza
called Nihonmachi, otherwise Japantown. The San Francisco's Japanese American community established its roots here since then.
Japanese and World Ware II in San Francisco Japantown
The World War II happened that brought turmoil to everything. All the Japanese Americans in San Francisco and from other
West Coast communities were uprooted as a result. This was the darkest moments in the history of the US.
After the War in San Francisco Japantown
After the war, many Americans of the Japanese origin started coming back to the city trying to reestablish their lives.
They picked up the pieces to build we know today as San Francisco. At the time of this writing, there are more than 12,000
Japanese Americans in the town while about 80,000 have established their lives in greater Bay Area.
Future Changes in San Francisco Japantown
Even though San Francisco is known as Japan town, most of those who dwell here are not Japanese. Due to multi-culturalism,
the town is now a home for people from different cultures and nationalist.
Development has taken center stage as new and ultra-modern building keeping coming up each day. Recent years has seen great
changes taking place here. Perhaps the most recent and noticeable change is the opening of bona fide, elegant hotels, great
neighborhood and a lure for tourists.
The best thing is, the Japanese culture is still held and practiced highly even though most are born here an speak English.
Different initiatives like special weeks to observe the culture have been set up to remind the current generation of where
they are coming from.
The revamp of Hotel Kabuki along the 1625 street is clear evidence of the revolution taking place here. The town is becoming
more and more westernized. People are shifting further from cultural ties and becoming integrated into modernity.
Despite these changes, San Francisco is bound to remain a Japantown. The beauty of the town originates from the Japanese culture.
It will continue to thrive and develop but with a hint of the Japanese culture.
San Francisco - Where Did All the Japanese Go?
Development is happening everywhere. As time goes by, people start moving to different places trying to make ends meet. A
single place becomes unaccommodating forcing the people to move out.
San Francisco is no different as many Japanese have left to look for work and other things elsewhere. It is only the best way
to keep up with the changing times.
Modernity has fully taken over culture. Apart from this, it is important for people to find another source of livelihood elsewhere
if they are not getting it from a single source. But this does not stop the town from shining on beauty and glory of the Japanese people.
What is San Francisco Travel Tips?
Going to San Francisco can be both exciting and exhausting. You are in luck, as we have highlighted the best travel tips you can ever
Understand the Weather in San Francisco
San Francisco is very cold in summer. Those who travel here without understanding their weather often end up in trouble. Many cheap
sweatshirt shops are thriving because most tourists don't take weather consideration very seriously.
Find the Right Place to Stay in San Francisco
We can tell you for free that hotels along Van Ness and Lombard streets are good but not ideal. They are sometimes very noisy.
The best place would be the Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf.
Ways To Save Your Money While in San Francisco
Know how to save money in San Francisco. There are different aspects include transportation, attractions, tours, and hotels you should keep in mind.
Don't Wait Till Last Minute for Reservations
Two weeks before the trip is enough time to make a reservation. Tours fill up first especially during the pick seasons. Visit hotels'
concierge or try out ticket offices to avoid disappointment at the last moment.
Get a Helpful Tour Guide or Check Our Tips
You are going to need a tour guide for you to enjoy your visit to San Francisco. Though you can go alone, it is better to have someone showing you the best
places. Many tour guides promise greatness but deliver less. Use a small, local company for a private tour.
Don't Forget to Eat Great Food
This is a Japantown full of restaurants that are top rated across the globe. But they are not all fancy; some can be quite disappointing.
Research online for suggestions and get the best meals. Don't leave without trying out some Sushi.
Places to Visit in San Francisco
There are places in San Francisco you don't want to miss. Here is a list.
• Peace Pagoda. This historical monument has been a great inspiration from the pagodas in Nara, the ancient Japan capital.
It is a donation that was made by the city of Osaka as a gesture for generosity. Each year, different celebrations are held here.
• Benihana. Looking for mouth-watering meals and unforgettable dining experience, visit Benihana and you will get it all.
• Pika Pika. This is a vibrant photo booth that livens up the Japanese pop culture. Simply pick a themed booth, pause, decorate and print your photos.
• Crown & Crumpet. This is a great tea stop cafe at the heart of Japantown you should check out.
• Visit the Sundance Kabuki theater for great releases.
• Kinokuniya bookstore. Read anything you want about Japan from this store packed with books, magazines, comics, CDs, DVDs, software, stationery, and so many other things.
Places to Go Shopping in Japantown
Japan town has great quirky shops filled with great finds which makers and lovers of creative works find intriguing. These include the Kinokuniya
bookshop, Daiso Japan dollar shop, Aloha Warehouse for Hawaiian sweets, hula supplies, apparel, and ukuleles. The Katsura garden is a nice place to
find yourself a bonsai tree. And for all your home supply needs, visit the Ichiban Kan.
Hotels & Places to Stay in Japantown
Japantown has been hit by a wave of modern structures with great, fashionable hotels. Hotel Kabuki along 1625 Post Street is one of the most contemporary
hotels. It has a great design; open spaces that lure will lure anyone in and fresh cocktail bar & restaurant serving great drinks.
But that is not the only place with goodies and everything attractive. Hotel Buchanan along the 1800 Sutter Street is another site to behold. You
find the tchotchke styling of the hotel showing a unique style of interiors by Nicole Hollis. There is plenty of whiskeys here.
The secret here is to find a place convenient enough to access the city as well as all the right place you wish to visit.
Top Things to Do in San Franisco, Japantown
When you get to Cisco, don't just look at the Golden Gate Bridge, get your foot on the ground and walk on it.
Before you even get there, visit the top attraction for those who love excellent meals in the city-the ferry building marketplace.
For recreation, get to the Golden Gate Park and have enjoyed your time. This is a popular place with the locals.
Visit the Exploratorium, the hands-on, laboratory where children and adults alike can learn something. This is an excellent museum with over
600 interactive exhibits on a wide range of historical subjects.
Cable cars are a great attraction in San Francisco. If you have been only seeing them in movies, this is your time to experience in real life.
Japan town is full of top rated restaurants. Get into the mood for some Sushi, noodles and more. Visit places like Suzu Noodle house, Udon Mugizo, and Kui Shin Bo.
Transportation Tips in Japantown
The best way to get around Japantown San Francisco is to go car-free. It is not only an environmental statement,
but it is also the best choice you can ever make. Parking fee in San Francisco is quite expensive. Hotels charge a
fortune for parking, yet most of the attractive places are close together, you don't need a car.
Use public transport, Uber and Taxis - it is more convenient. And if you must use a car, then get a rental car for
a day or so.
And if you want to avoid all of that, then pick a good tour guide. That will save on cash as well as time.
What Other Japan Towns Can You Visit and See
Apart from San Francisco, there are two other Japanese Towns in the US. They are Little Tokyo and San Jose. When
you finish checking out San Francisco, these are two other places you may want to put on your list. Enjoy your visit.
We will have complete guides tips to help you.