Get to Know Japantown
Each of San Francisco’s neighborhoods has a unique “personality.” Get to know Japantown’s distinct charm through this featured video.
Shop & Dine in the 49!
Shop and Dine in the 49! Add special meaning to your gift shopping and purchase gifts from our San Francisco local neighborhood businesses. Try a new cuisine and explore while you are at it. Make a full day experience while you take a walk through Japantown.
Current & Upcoming Activities
San Francisco’s Japantown is one of four remaining Japantown districts in the United States. Its focal point is the Japan Center (opened in 1968), 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. The largest settlement of Japanese immigrants to the area occurred in the early 1900s, after the 1906 earthquake and fire. However, the population has experienced several waves of displacement due to the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans in 1942 and later during redevelopment and urban renewal from the late 1950s through the 1980s. Today Japantown remains a cultural and social center for Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals living throughout the Bay area.
Japantown celebrates several major festivals that attract thousands of people every year including the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, the Nihonmachi Street Fair (held annually in August), and the newer J-Pop Summit Festival.
The preservation of Japanese and Japanese American cultural heritage is a top priority of the community and is reflected in the existence of community-based groups that advocate for and promote cultural heritage. Several social service agencies provide culturally appropriate support to seniors, children, youth and families, while the longstanding merchants association seeks to strengthen the existing businesses that preserve many cultural aspects of Japanese heritage.
Japantown is replete with restaurants, supermarkets, indoor shopping malls, hotels, banks and other shops, including one of the few U.S. branches of the Kinokuniya bookstore chain. It has over 500 businesses providing nearly 5,000 jobs. Sales tax captured in the district has grown 20% since 2006, compared with 17% growth Citywide; the neighborhood also has a very low storefront vacancy rate. People visit the area to access the unique food (grocers and restaurants) and purchase retail merchandise. Opportunities exist to increase marketing of existing businesses to boost foot traffic and promote cultural exchange. Stakeholders are concerned for the long-term viability of some existing businesses, especially considering the aging, inward-facing structures, and the pending transfer of some family-owned businesses.
Source: US Census Bureau, 2010 Census of Population and Housing