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Places to Visit in San Francisco, America
Home to about 12,000 Japanese Americans, San Franciscos Japantown presents visitors with an opportunity to enjoy Japanese culture, shops, and restaurants. The areas main sight is the Peace Pagoda.
History of the Neighborhood The Japanese have been coming to San Franciscoto Francisco and the surrounding bay area since the 1860s. While they first lived in Chinatown and other areas south of Market Street, the fire caused by the great earthquake of 1906 forced them from those areas and prompted them to find homes in a neighborhood known as the Western Addition, untouched by the fire, located west of Union Square.
As the Japanese moved to the area, they began establishing not only homesteads but also stores, eateries and temples. The neighborhood soon became known as Japantown, Nihonmachi or Japantown (sometimes also called J-Town).The start of World War II resulted in the internment of most Japanese Americans on the West Coast of the U.S., so much of Japantown was empty during the war years. After WWII ended, many Japanese returned to the neighborhood to resume their lives. As a matter of fact, the overcrowding in the area after the war resulted in redevelopment of the neighborhood and the awarding of an urban renewal grant that allowed for new buildings to be constructed.
In 1968, the 3-square-block Japan Center (originally the Japanese Cultural and Trade Center) was completed. Japantown, San Francisco The center includes a deluxe hotel and two malls - the Kintetsu and Miyako. Another mall, the Osaka Way, was completed in 1976. Japan Center was part of an ambitious project that unfortunately also included the construction of the Geary Expressway which cuts off the neigborhood to the south.
Whats There?
JapanTown has large variety of stores, from those offering traditional Japanese fare to fancy boutiques and well-priced electronics vendors. Also located there are a handful of art galleries and a subsidiary of the largest bookstore chain in Japan, Kinokuniya Bookstore, which sells books written in both English and Japanese.Restaurants - mostly Japanese - are plentiful. You-ll find national chains like Benihana as well as small mom and pop operations that offer some of the best Japanese food on the West Coast. There are also a number of churches and temples in JapanTown such as the Sokoji-Soto Temple, a Buddhist temple built in 1984.
Peace Pagoda and Japanese Gate Dont miss a visit to the Peace Center and five-story, 100ft (30m) tall Pagoda, the centerpiece of Japantown and a good photo opportunity. The pagoda, designed by Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, was given to Japantown by the people of Osaka, San Franciscos sister city in Japan. This affiliation led to yet another nickname for JapanTown: Little Osaka.
Another landmark in Japantown is a Japanese mountain temple gate, built in 1976 as the symbolic entrance to the Buchanan Mall. The Mall, which is now known as the Osaka Way, is a picturesque pedestrian street paved with cobblestones and bordered by houses built in Japanese style.
Japantown (also known as J Town or historically as Japanese Town, Nihonmachi) is a section located in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco, California that comprises about six square city blocks. San Franciscos Japantown is the largest and oldest such enclave in the United States.
The main thoroughfare is Post Street, between Fillmore Street (to the west) and Laguna Street (to the east). The Japantown neighborhood is generally considered to be bordered on the north by Bush or Pine Street, and on the south by Geary Boulevard. Its focal point is the Japan Center (opened in 1968),[3] the site of three Japanese-oriented shopping centers and the Peace Pagoda, a five-tiered concrete stupa designed by Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi and presented to San Francisco by the people of Osaka, Japan.
Built and settled as part of the Western Addition neighborhood in the 19th and early 20th century, Japanese immigrants began moving into the area following the 1906 Earthquake.[4] (Before 1906, San Francisco had two Japantowns, one on the outskirts of Chinatown, the other in the South of Market area. After 1906, San Franciscos main Japantown was in the Western Addition, with a smaller one in the South Park area.[5]) By World War II, the neighborhood was one of the largest such enclaves of Japanese outside of Japan, as it took an appearance similar to the Ginza district in Tokyo.
[4]After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the neighborhood experienced kristallnacht type attacks on residences and businesses. In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 that forced all Japanese of birth or descent in the United States interned. By 1943 many large sections of the neighborhood remained vacant due to the forced internment. The void was quickly filled by thousands of African Americans who had left the South to find wartime industrial jobs in California as part of the Great Migration. Following the war, some Japanese Americans returned, followed by new Japanese immigrants as well as investment from the Japanese Government and Japanese companies, many did not return to the neighborhood and instead settled in other parts of the city, or out to the suburbs altogether. This was further exacerbated by the citys efforts to rejuvenate the neighborhood initiated by Justin Herman in the Western Addition in the 1960s through the 1980s.
In 1957, San Francisco entered in a sister city relationship with the city of Osaka, hence the nickname Little Osaka. Osaka is San Franciscos oldest sister city.[7] In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this relationship, one block of Buchanan Street, in Japantown, was renamed Osaka Way on 8 September 2007.
The area is home to Japanese (and some Korean and Chinese) restaurants, supermarkets, indoor shopping malls, hotels, banks and other shops, including one of the few U.S. branches of the large Kinokuniya bookstore chain. Most of these businesses are located in the commercial center of the neighborhood which is a large shopping mall built in the 1960s as part of urban renewal efforts and is run by Japanese retailer Kintetsu.
Pika Pika, one of the up-and-coming businesses, involves taking Japanese sticker pictures that can be decorated and written on called purikura.San Franciscos Japantown celebrates two major festivals every year: The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (held for two weekends every April),[9] and the Nihonmachi Street Fair, held one weekend in the month of August.
10]The Cherry Blossom Festival takes place over the course of two weekends. During the first weekend, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen Program takes place at the Kabuki theatre where women of Japanese/Japanese-American descent are chosen to represent, learn about and serve their community.[11] During the Sunday parade, the Queen and Princesses are presented on a float.
The area is within the San Francisco Unified School District. Rosa Parks Elementary School is located near Japantown. It houses the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program (JBBP).[13] In the winter of 2005 Rosa Parks had 233 students, which filled less than half of the school. That winter SFUSD proposed closing the school and merge it with another elementary school. Parents protested in favor of keeping the school open. SFUSD moved the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program into Rosa Parks. As of November 2006, almost half of the students in the regular Rosa Parks program are African-American and one third of the students in the JBBP program are Japanese.

Lombard Street
Golden Gate Park
Civic Center
Ferry Building
Yerba Buena Gardens
China Town
Transamerica Pyramid

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