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March 16th, 2018

The SCH Guide to Japantown

Travel Tips

Japantown in San Francisco was founded following the devastating 1906 earthquake, when the Japanese community relocated to the area from Chinatown. Merchants sold Japanese goods in the neighborhood located just a mile west of Union Square, called “Nihonmachi,” or Japantown.

Today, Japantown stretches about six city blocks with the Japan Center as its focal point. The center is composed of three malls offering imported goods, Japanese cuisine and more. Here’s the SCH guide of things to do in Japantown.

Food fare is abundant in Japantown. If you’re in the mood for ramen, Marufuku Ramen located on the second floor of the center is a popular place for good reason. The ramen menu is straightforward and guests can select their level of spice and additional toppings. There’s usually a line, but the rich broth is worth the wait.

If you’re looking for serious sushi, Kiss Seafood is the best option for sushi purists. It’s a cozy place located outside of the mall and offers fresh sushi, sashimi and soups masterly prepared with attention to detail. If you’re looking for more streamlined sushi rolls, Tenroku Sushi is a fun spot that serves sushi conveyor-belt style.

For dessert, it’s essential to try Benkyodo Co. bakery in the Buchanan Mall. The Japanese bakery is known for their mochis, which are made fresh daily with seasonal ingredients and sell out quickly. Get there early for the best selection. Benkyodo is a good place to sit and have a coffee or tea. Try the Age, a donut with smooth red beans.

Notable shops to check out include the famous Kinokuniya bookstore that sells Asian books, magazines and comics. Paper Tree is a great place to get souvenirs for friends, as it’s a shop solely dedicated to origami stationary. Daiso is a chain that sells Japanese imports and has as much variety as a dollar store. This is another awesome little place for souvenirs and gifts.

While in Japantown, check out the Kabuki Theater, which is a tiny little cinema that screens independent films. Likewise, keep an eye out for the Peace Pagoda at the Japanese Center, which is a five-tiered stupa gifted from the people of Osaka, Japan to the community.

If you’re visiting in spring, keep an eye out for the annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival.

From Stanford Court Hotel, Japantown is just 1.5 miles away. Ask our concierge for your best transport options.

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Planning a trip to SF? Check out deals at our boutique hotel Stanford Court in Nob Hill

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