Things to do in Japantown

San Francisco’s Japantown is both the oldest and the largest Japantown in the United States, and as such it is steeped in rich history and culture. Known colloquially as ‘J-Town’ or as ‘Nihonmachi’ by the locals, Japantown takes up a six-block slice of San Francisco’s northwest, in the Western Addition District. Centred on the bustling Japan Shopping Center, the neighbourhood is a much-loved cultural enclave that is well worth a visit to learn about the unique Japanese culture and its significance in San Francisco’s history.

One of the most popular places to visit in Japantown is the Peace Pagoda, a monument designed to inspire peace amongst people of all races. Japantown’s residents keenly follow this ideology, making Japantown an incredibly friendly and welcoming place to be. Bearing a resemblance to Tokyo’s Ginza district, San Francisco’s Japantown has remained authentic and free from tourist traps – one of the many reasons it is a popular addition to any San Francisco area guide.

As with any Japantown, one of the highlights for most visitors is the cuisine. From sit-down restaurants, to street food and classic Japantown markets, there is plenty of authentic Japanese, Chinese and Korean food to sample in Japantown. The neighbourhood is also host to two large cultural festivals every year. The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival takes place here every April, and the Nihonmachi Street Fair is held in August. There is plenty to do in Japantown at anytime of year though, so be sure to pay a visit to this neighbourhood during a stay in San Francisco.

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