A seven-minute walk westbound along Sutter St. from some of the finest San Francisco hotels in Union Square, like Hotel Majestic, will bring you to Japantown. A bustling district home to Japanese cuisine and culture, Japantown occupies a number of blocks that stretches from Bush St. to Geary Blvd. It is one of the centerpieces of San Francisco’s diverse cultural landscape.
The U.S. had a surge of Japanese immigrants in the late 19th century. While the concentration then was in the state Hawaii, by the 20th century, the Japanese population in California had also swelled to more than 100,000. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Japanese community was moved to the western addition, building their own neighborhood called Nihonmachi or Japantown.
Japantown was left virtually empty in World War II, but had a resurgence when it qualified for postwar urban renewal assistance. However, its renaissance came in the 1960’s when the five-acre Japan Center was built and housed numerous Japanese businesses and establishments. Community renewal then spread from the areas surrounding Japan Center to encompass the entire neighborhood.
Places of Interest
It’s hard to miss Japantown, especially since one of its landmarks is a pagoda-style tower that forms the Japantown Peace Plaza. Donated by San Francisco’s sister city Osaka in 1968 as a gesture of goodwill, the Peace Pagoda, as it is called, alludes to the pagodas common in ancient Japanese cities like Nara. The grounds around the Peace Pagoda serve as an event center.
Japantown is also a haven for shopaholics from around the world as it is home to three huge malls: the East and West malls flanking the Peace Pagoda, and the Kinokuniya mall across Webster St. North of the Peace Plaza is a succession of restaurants serving up authentic Japanese dishes such as sushi, ramen, and shabu-shabu.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of Japantown’s most iconic events. The neighborhood has a couple of cherry blossom (sakura) trees around the Peace Plaza, providing the backdrop for a day of exotic performances, sumptuous delicacies, and formal customs. Other events include the Soy and Tofu Festival and Japan Day Festival.
All these and more are just a walk away from luxury hotels in Japantown San Francisco. A day touring Japantown can be quite exhausting, what will all the sites to see and things to do, especially during a festival. Having accommodations so close to this vibrant place can give you all the comfort and convenience you need after an exciting day.