Folded into Lower Pacific Heights, Japantown is an enclave of history and culture. The five-tiered concrete Peace Pagoda towers over the Japan Center–an indoor shopping mall brimming with specialty shops. The nabe buzzes during the Cherry Blossom Festival, a yearly springtime tradition celebrated by the local population. Japantown is served by Muni Metro, granting you easy access to the rest of SF.
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Land of the Feet Shufflers
Feet shufflers of the world unite! Head to Japantown! At least, that’s what it feels like the United League of Slow Walkers advertises to their members. The main streets of Japantown are busy, slow and crowded. People in front of you walk slower snails. It’s frustrating as all hell. The traffic is even worse, with tourists and parking spot seekers making illegal turns and blocking driveways and crosswalks. If you cherish that fixie of yours, I suggest NOT riding it in this neighborhood on a regular basis because some kooky driver could put it at risk.
Japantown had better be glad they have karaoke, shabu, day spas, sushi and a pretty kick-ass movie theater to make up for all those feet shufflers. I’d fight my way through a thousand feet shufflers for some shabu and a full body scrub.
Do you A) sing karaoke at least twice a week; B) consider raw fish and Udon noodles gourmet dining; C) require a ready collection of the latest anime books to hit the shelves? If you answered yes to any or all of the above (I know I did) then get to Japantown.
Midway between the famous trolley cars downtown and Golden Gate Park, and with easy access to buses and other public transportation, Japantown is ideal for both day-trippers and residents. There’s as much culture as Chinatown minus the crowding tourists and sketchy back alleys, but strip away the cheesy, tourism driven veneer and its also a safe, quiet residential neighborhood.
Predominantly a professional, upper-middle class area, Japantown has a mix of yuppies and older residents with few families, hipsters, or students. Grocery shopping wise it lags in the fresh market movement typical of more trendy San Fran neighborhoods but “normal” grocery stores are available, as well as possibly the best selection of Japanese markets this side of Tokyo. Night life for young singles isn’t great but that’s what the rest of the city is for. The busier streets like Webster and Geary can be noisy/busy during the day but I never once felt uneasy after dark, even returning from some loooong nights out.
If you’re denouncing showers and rebelling against Mom and Dad then live in Haight/Ashbury. If you’re cashing in your savings account for skinny jeans then move to Mission. If you have some disposable income and want a convenient, up-and-coming atmosphere with a flair for the cultural then check out Japantown.Cody
More sushi please!
Japantown feels more like a commercial area than a neighborhood. But it’s still one of favorite places to shop. The Japan Center has so many unique choices and some really great, inexpensive food. You can avoid the crowds of Chinatown and it’s totally off the tourist map. The streets are pretty busy here and can be loud at times but overall it’s a great part of town. Basically, it’s an added bonus for surrounding nabes like Lower Pacific Heights and Western Addition.