When you’re in Japantown, San Francisco’s historic foundation of Japanese and Japanese American culture, and its near neighbor, the Fillmore District, the city’s historic home for live jazz music, they most certainly do.
Japantown is bordered roughly by Geary Boulevard between Laguna Street (east), and Fillmore Street (west) and a stop on San Francisco’s 49-Mile Scenic Drive. Look for the bright red banners adorned with cherry blossoms and the Peace Pagoda which proudly marks the Japantown area.
Japantown is the oldest of only three Japantowns remaining in the U.S., all of which are in California. This is confirmed by dozens of Japanese groceries, shops, restaurants and the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya.
Traditional Japanese and Asian themes adorn the Japan Center, a shopping complex on the north side of Geary, and anchored at both ends by the Hotel Buchanan and Sundance Kabuki cinema. Hotel Tomo is designed inside with J-Pop anime and manga themes. The Kabuki Springs & Spas is one of the only Japanese style osentos in the U.S. and offers Japanese style bathing followed by another art of Japan, Shiatsu massage.
Cultural menu offerings range from sushi, the most popular Japanese food in the world; manju, a rice confection, still being hand-made and served up by family owned and operated Benkyodo which opened in 1906; Ramen noodles, a growing popular noodle and broth dish; matcha, a green tea beverage; shabu-shabu, a meat and vegetable combo simmered at a tableside hot pot and Asian BBQ.
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