Japan may only be a few square blocks, but it has a lot to see and do in a small area. It's also called Nihonmachi, Japantown consists of a few blocks all centered around the Japantown Peace Plaza. From eating delicious ramen and Japanese sweets to enjoying a soak in a Japanese-style onsen, here is what to do the next time you visit Japantown!
The Peace Pagoda was gifted to the city in 1968 by Osaka, Japan. Designed by the Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, the unique pagoda consists of five tiers of concrete with a spire on top. The pagoda itself is a unique place to visit and admire, and its location between the two branches of the Japan Center Malls (east and west) means that it is a great central point to begin your exploration around Japantown.
The Japan Center Mall is broken into two wings, separated by the plaza: east and west. The west part of the Japan Center mall is generally a little more bustling. Several of the famous Japanese eateries are here, such as Marufuku Ramen, Sophie's Crepes, and Mochill. The east part of the Japan Center mall is where you'll find Daiso, the beloved Japanese dollar store, as well as a beautiful red high-arched bridge on the stairwell - which happens to be a fantastic San Francisco selfie spot!
The Katsura Garden has served the San Francisco community since 1974, and they are one of the most loved places in historic Japantown. The Katsura Garden was famous fo Japanese landscaping, maintenance, and bonsai trees specialties. they continue to serve the bonsai tree community to this day.
The Kinokuniya Bookstore is a must-see when visiting Japantown (or San Francisco). This famous Japanese bookseller has an incredibly curated collection of books, anime, and gifts. The first floor is across from the Matcha Cafe which specializes in anime, and the top floor near Sophia's Crepes has all sorts of books, such as design, cookbooks, fiction, and novels.
The best ramen in San Francisco can be found at Marufuku! Marufuku proudly serves authentic Hakata-style Tonkotsu ramen, featuring milky and umami-rich broth made from boiling pork bones for hours, and ultra-thin artisanal noodles that match perfectly with the broth, and Cha-shu made from specially selected pork.
Mochill Mochi Donut is a Japanese-style mochi donut store. The donuts are quintessential Japanese chewy treats made from rice flour and have more texture, yet is lighter than traditional American donuts.
The Matcha Cafe Maiko imports all its products from Uji, Japan. Uji is in the southern part of Kyoto and is known worldwide for its highly nutritious matcha. The area is ideal for growing this tea as there is plenty of mist, which protected it from frost from degrading product quality. Their matcha comes from Harima Garden, which has been in operation since 1858. Their product is high quality and delivers a great smell and outstanding taste.