San Francisco’s Japantown is the oldest in the United States. Look for the bright red banners adorned with cherry blossoms and the Peace Pagoda on Geary Blvd. between Laguna and Fillmore streets.
The Japan Center, a shopping complex on the north side of Geary Blvd., is anchored at both ends by the Hotel Kabuki and AMC Kabuki Cinema. The Kabuki Springs & Spa offers Japanese-style bathing followed by another relaxing import from Japan: shiatsu massage.
Dining offerings range from sushi; ramen; manju, a rice confection; matcha, a green tea beverage; and shabu-shabu, a meat-and-vegetable combo simmered in a tableside hot pot.
A great place to visit any time, Japantown offers a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival; “Kodomo No Hi” or Children’s day in May; and the Nihonmachi Street Fair in August.