Hi! It’s the pea, bonggamom’s daughter, and today I’m going to be doing a guest review/travel document on Japantown, San Francisco. I went with my friend to Japan Center Mall in Japantown, and we had a really great time!
Japantown in San Francisco is one of only three Japantowns in the United States, so be sure to check it out if you live in the Bay Area. Japantown is also sometimes called “Little Osaka” because of the sister city relationship with Japan city Osaka. The Peace Pagoda, a gift from Osaka to San Francisco, can be found outside between two sections of the mall.
I have never been to any, but on the official website it says that there are events such as festivals around springtime. The website doesn't actually list what events though, or when these event occur. Wikipedia says there are two main festivals every year, the Cherry Blossom Festival over two weekends in April, and the Nihonmachi Street Fair in August.
When we got there it was lunchtime, so that’s what we did first. Japan Center mall has an abundance of asian cuisine restaurants, mostly Japanese but with some Chinese and Korean too. Many of the restaurants are in Restaurant Row, so that’s where we went to look for somewhere to eat.
Dessert can be found in any of the restaurants, but there are many other places to satisfy your sweet tooth. There is a mochi shop that has all kinds of flavors in many different quantities. I think the boxes look so nice, it would be a really unique and yummy gift to give. I also saw a cupcake shop, and we also got self serve frozen yogurt (with mochi on top of course) from a place that was a lot like Yogurtland.
There is a big bookstore that had books both in Japanese kanji and English. Some books are manga/anime, some are novels, some are books filled with pictures or art or small cartoons. There are collections of postcards and collectible figurines too.
Japan is known for it’s stationary, so it’s no surprise that they have amazing stationery/art stores. These stores have so many colored pens, my friend got one for me before and it has multiple spaces for pens that can be switched out. My friend who went with me got a really fancy mechanical pencil. I got a 0.1mm felt art pen meant for manga, the store had so many different brands, sizes, and types of black pens! There is cool papers, stickers, stamps, felting supplies, and paints that can be found there.
Everybody loves photobooths, and Japan Center Mall has a whole shop full of them! They are very expensive, $10 being the cheapest option, but they are deluxe version of your average movie photobooth. Each booth is huge with good lighting, a green screen with many backgrounds to choose from, frames, and an editing stage where you can add stickers and draw before printing a strip of pictures or a sheet of stickers.
Shops filled with character items like stuffies, figurines, and backpacks are also common. These can range from Mario to Totoro to Vocaloid to Frozen and everything inbetween. Stuffies can be gigantic (think small kindergartener sized), or you can get a little keychain with a mini plush toy.
Daiso can be found in a lot of places, but the Daiso in Japantown is huge! If you haven’t heard of Daiso, it’s a Japanese store where everything is $1.50. This store literally sells everything. Food, toys, kitchenware, floral arrangement, organization, makeup, household items, crafting; everything usually priced $2-$20 can be be found for $1.50. *Note that around 5% of the things there aren’t $1.50, but they are in the $1-$3 range.
Japantown was a really fun place to be, and I highly recommend going there for a fun day out (we were there for 4 hours). Make sure you bring a relatively small amount of money, because believe me, you are going to want everything! Thank you so much for reading my guest review, hopefully I’ll come back to write some more!