The Best Japanese Festivals & Events On the Web

2024 San Jose Bon Odori Dance Practice - Buddhist Church Betsuin (Free Fun Event)
2024 San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin Obon Bazaar-Festival (Live Taiko, Authentic Japanese Food, Entertainment & Bon Odori Dancing) JapanTown (2 Days)
2024 Berkeley Higashi Buddhist Temple Bon Odori Dance (In Conjunction with Berkeley Buddhist Temple) Saturday
2024 Buddhist Church of Parlier Obon Festival (Bon Odori Dancing, Taiko, Teri-Chicken, Somen, Shave Ice..) Saturday
2024 - Annual Florin Buddhist Church Annual Obon Festival (Food, Entertainment & Bon Odori Dancing) Saturday
2024 Children’s Day Celebration at Ashland Japanese Garden (“Kodomo no Hi”-Japanese Holiday Dedicated to Celebrating Children’s Happiness..)
2024 Buddhist Temple of Alameda Annual Vactionland Carnival & Bazaar (Japanese Food, Bingo, Games, Raffle, Games..)
2024 Higashi Hongwanji Obon Festival Event - Bon Odori, Live Music.. (Comin Back for 2024)
2024 Uncover the Hidden Gems of Hakone Garden - A Tour of Discovery (Exciting & Unique Tour: Elements of Japan’s Ancient Civilization)
2024 West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple Annual Summer Obon Festival (Bon Odori, Live Taiko, Japanese Food, Games..) (Different Times) WLA (2 Days)
2024 Oak Glen-Apple Season and the Amazing Scenic Car Drive: Pick Your Own Apples, Apple Pie, Hay Ride, Mountain Air, Apple Tasting, Pony Rides..
2024 Bon Odori Dance Practice - WLA - West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple (WLA)
2024 Sakura Celebration: Garden Tour with Lara Netting
Explore this Ancient Culture of Japan.
Explore Ancient Japan.

San Francisco Japantown Best Restaurants, Attractions & Shopping

San Francisco's Ultimate Tips and Secrets (Updated: 2024)


San Francisco: Explore the 2nd Largest Japantown

Everything You Need to Know About San Francisco On One Page

There are four official Japan towns in the US, and San Francisco is the largest of them. The town is known as the hub of Japanese culture.

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 California. 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?

What is a Japantown? It is a community place for Japanese businesses, temples, and markets that brings together a neighborhood of Japanese organizations, people, Japanese language, schools, events, and festivals.

There Are Four official Japantowns in the United Sates.

 •  Little Tokyo Japantown, Los Angeles, California
 •  San Francisco Japantown, California
 •  San Jose Japantown, California
 •  Sawtelle Japantown, West Los Angeles, California

More Japantowns (Japanese Areas) to Visit in the United Sates.

 •  Seattle, California
 •  Seattle Japantown (Not Designated)
 •  Bainbridge Island, Seattle
 •  New York's Best Japanese Restaurants, Attractions and Stores
 •  Washington DC's Best Japanese Restaurants, Attractions and Stores
 •  San Diego's Best Japanese Restaurants, Attractions and Stores

Little Tokyo is Used to Reference Other Japanese Cities

 •  Little Tokyo in New York (United States)
 •  Little Tokyo in Hawaii (United States)
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Where is San Francisco Japantown Located on a Map?

How Far is San Francisco Japantown to San Jose Japantown?

These 2 Japantowns are located in Northern California.  San Jose Japantown is only 57 miles from San Francisco Japantown.

  1) 45 to 60 minutes if no traffic
  2) 70 to 90+ minutes in traffic

Where Do I Park in San Francisco Japantown?

If you are coming to San Francisco by car you need to find parking. You can park on the street and pay a meter, private garages or go to the mall and park at the Japan Center Garage. The Japan Center Garage may be the easiest and most convenient place to park in San Francisco Japantown.

Is It Safe to Walk in San Francisco Japantown?

It is safe to walk around during the daytime, but at night you should always be concerned and aware of your surroundings. Don't walk around by yourself in unknown areas or where there is no people.

Some Wallet/Purse Tips (If stolen or lost)

 • Don't cary alot of cash
 • Carry 2 credit cards (Write down Credit Card name/phone)
 • Learn to add your credit cards to your phone
 • Secure your phone with passcode

Some Car Tips (If broken into)

 • Don't anything in front & back seats
 • Don't leave any bags showing

Don't Forget To Bring the Following if Traveling to San Francisco Japantown

 •  Metro FastTrak Transponder for Car
      Access to Freeway Lanes to bypass traffic (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
 •  Cash: some places only accept cash (Bridge tools in San Francisco, if you don't have FastTrak)
 •  Phone Holder for your car
 •  Phone Charger, extra phone cables
 •  Camera, batteries, video camera
 •  Clothing: Jacket & pants (Fall Weather), walking shoes
 •  Coins: street parking meters

What is the 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 People First Immigrant to San Francisco?

This is the most important question when unveiling the history of this Japantown. Why is it called Japantown? The Japanese immigrants 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 immigrants who came to the US become more acquainted with these areas.

When the earthquake broke in 1906, the aftermath was so devastating that the Japanese immigrants 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 Immigrants and World War 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.

Where Did All the Japanese Go in San Francisco?

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 the Weather like San Francisco Japantown?

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 to San Francisco Japantown

Making a trip to San FRancisco, 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.

If You Visit San Francisco Get a 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.

Is There a Walking Tour to Explore San Francisco Japantown?

The Japantown History Walk was to teach about the unique historical and cultural significance of the space the Nikkei community has established in Japantown over the past 110 years.

Where Does the Walking Tour in San Francisco Japantown Start?

The Japantown History Walk tour starts at Peace Plaza by JapanCenter Mall West Entrance.

Are There Japanese Restaurants in San Francisco Japantown?

This is a Japantown full of restaurants that are top rated. But they are not all fancy; some can be quite disappointing. Look at our lists and look for the word "Authentic" for our picks.

Tips for Visiting San Francisco Japantown, California

Are you planning on visiting San Francisco Japantown? We have the tips and secrets to save you time in what to eat and where to go. There are places in San Francisco you don't want to miss.

San Francisco Japantown is broken down in the following areas.

1) Japantown Peace Plaza

You can really start anywhere in San Francisco Japantown. One of our recomendation is to start at Peace Plaza and the where the mall entrace says Japan Center - West Mall entrace.

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 Japanese event celebrations are held here.

 •  Peace Plaza, Peace Pagoda - A monument to inspire peace, Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi

2) Kintetsu Mall (West Mall) Next to Japantown Peace Plaza

Once you enter the West Mall entrace, you will see a map that shows where you are. Also it will show you a "Self-Guided History Walk" of San Francisco Japantown. This will be one of the easiest ways to see the area. Make sure you take a photo of the Map so you can remember where to stop.

West Mall has the following stores to check out.

Kintetsu Mall or West Mall - Highlights
 •  Amiko Boutique (Authentic)
 •  Sakura Sakura Boutique (Authentic)
 •  Benihana Restaurant (Authentic)
 •  Nijiya Market - Japanese Market (Authentic)

Kinokuniya Mall or East Mall - Highlights
 •  Asakichi Incense (Authentic)
 •  Kissako Tea (Authentic)
 •  Marufuku Ramen Restaurant (Authentic)
 •  Kinokuniya Bookstore - Japanese Books (Authentic)

3) Miyako Mall Next to Japantown Peace Plaza

If you are standing and looking at the Peace Plaza, on your left you will see Miyako Mall.

 •  Daiso Japan - Japanese 99 cent store (Authentic)
 •  Union Bank - ATM, cash may be needed at some businesses.

 •  Hotel Kabuki - See small Japanese Garden (walk through lobby)

4) Across the Street from Japantown Peace Plaza

Walking across the street from Peace Plaza, you will see Soko Hardware on the right.

 •  Soko Hardware (Authentic)
 •  Benkyodo Co, started in 1906 - Manju shop with coffee show (Authentic)

5) Outside of San Francisco Japantown

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is less than 15 minute drive from San Francisco's Japantown.

The garden was first created for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, and it was so popular that it became a permanent feature of Golden Gate Park. Today, it's one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

The garden is home to a variety of Japanese plants and trees, including cherry blossoms, maples, and bamboo. There's also a koi pond, a waterfall, and a traditional Japanese tea house.

 •  Japanese Tea Garden - Must see (Authentic)

Places to Go Shopping in San Francisco Japantown

Japantown 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.

Japan Center Mall, Japantown

Japan Center Mall is a shopping center located in the heart of one of San Francisco's most vibrant neighborhoods. The mall was built in 1968 and has since grown to be an important part of Japanese culture in the city. Featuring several floors of shopping, restaurants, services, and entertainment, it is a great place to explore Japanese culture and products. From traditional Japanese crafts to contemporary fashion, there is something for everyone here.

The mall also hosts many different events and festivals throughout the year that bring people together to celebrate Japanese culture. From traditional tea ceremonies and bon odori festivals to health and wellness seminars, there is always something going on at Japan Center Mall San Francisco Japantown. There are also several restaurants on-site that serve traditional Japanese dishes and specialties, as well as a variety of cafes and convenience stores. Visitors can also find an array of gift shops and souvenir stores throughout the mall.

The mall is conveniently located right in the heart of San Francisco's Japantown neighborhood, making it easily accessible by both car and public transportation. It is also within walking distance of many attractions, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Golden Gate Park. Japan Center Mall San Francisco Japantown is a great place to experience all that Japanese culture has to offer in the heart of one of San Francisco's most vibrant neighborhoods.

Hotels & Places to Stay in San Francisco 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 Francisco Japantown

When you arrive, 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.

Japantown 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.

What is the Most Popular Japanese Events in San Francisco Japantown?


The San Francisco Buddhist Church will be holding its annual Ginza Bazaar & Bon Odori in July. The Ginza Bazaar will feature many food booths such as teriyaki chicken, sushi, udon, BBQ ribs, curry, and homemade baked goods. In addition, silent auction, children's games, a boutique featuring many homemade crafts and clothing, tea salon, and bingo. On Saturday afternoon, there will be a kendo (Japanese martial art of swordsmanship) demonstration and Japanese kamishibai (storytelling) performance.

 •  Annual Ginza Bazaar & Bon Odori Street Festival - Buddhist Church of San Francisco (2 Days)

Transportation Tips in San Francisco 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.

Top 20 Things To Do & See in San Francisco?

Things that are not Japanese Related

1. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge

2. Ride a cable car

3. Eat at Fisherman's Wharf

4. See the sea lions at Pier 39

5. Visit Alcatraz Island

6. Explore Chinatown

7. Take a ferry ride to Sausalito

8. Shop at Union Square

9. Visit Ghirardelli Square

10. See the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square

11. Watch a Giants game at AT&T Park

12. Take a walk through Golden Gate Park

13. Visit Muir Woods

14. Drive down Highway 1

15. Explore the Presidio

16. Visit the Mission District

17. Eat at Zuni Café

18. Visit the de Young Museum

19. See the California Academy of Sciences

20. Watch a movie at the Castro Theatre

What Other Japantowns Can You Visit and See in the United States?

Apart from San Francisco Japantown, there are three other official Japantowns in the US. They are Little Tokyo, San Jose and Sawtelle. When you finish checking out San Francisco, these are three other Japantowns you may want to put on your list. Enjoy your visit.

What Are the Future Changes in San Francisco Japantown?

Proposed Future Changes for San Francisco Peace Plaza - Pagoda

2024 San Francisco's Japantown Best Restaurants, Attractions and Shopping

Plus SF Japanese Restaurants Outside of Japantown San Francisco

Click [San Francisco Near Me] Button

2024 San Francisco's Best Sushi Restaurants in San Francisco Japantown

Looking for Fresh Sushi


    Total: 6

    2024 San Francisco's Best Ramen, Udon, Shabu Shabu Restaurants

    Best Ramen in Japantown SF

    1) Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish popular throughout the world.
    2) Udon (うどん or 饂飩) is a thick noodle made from wheat flour.
    3) Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat, vegetables boiled in water.


      Total: 3

      2024 San Francisco's Best Authentic Japanese Desserts

      Where You Can Get Fresh Sushi


        Total: 3

        2024 San Francisco's Best Japanese Restaurant in SF (Various Food Dishes)

        More Delicious Japanese Food Choices To Try


          Total: 4

          2024 San Francisco's Best Japanese Attractions

          Walk San Francisco Historic Past


            Total: 5

            2024 San Francisco's Best Japanese Shopping

            San Francisco Has Cute Stores!


              Total: 9

              2024 San Francisco's Best Authentic Japanese Gardens

              The Most Beautiful (Hidden) Japanese Gardens in San Francisco


                Total: 2

                2024 San Francisco's Best Hotels & Stays

                Closest Places Inside San Francisco's Japantown


                  Total: 2

                  2024 San Francisco's Japanese Buddhist Temples

                  Founded in 1898, the Buddhist Church of San Francisco was the first Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land) Buddhist temple established in the continental United States and is the flagship temple of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA).


                    Total: 3

                    2024 San Francisco's Things To Do & See (Not Japanese)

                    While in San Francisco Don't Miss These Places


                      Total: 7

                      2024 San Francisco's Help and Support

                      Questions About San Francisco's Japantown


                        Total: 3


                        San Francisco Japantown Most Popular Festivals Events

                        May Include Other San Francisco Festivals & Events

                        Total: 13

                        What Other Japantowns Can You Visit and See in the United States?

                        Apart from Japantown San Francisco, there are three other official Japantowns in the US. They are San Jose, Little Tokyo and Sawtelle. When you finish checking out Little Tokyo, these are two other places you may want to put on your list. Enjoy your visit. We will have the complete guide and tips to help you.