San Francisco's new Japantown

San Francisco's hottest movie theater, coolest hotel, and most cutting-edge culture are all waiting to be discovered

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Kimono-clad folk dancers

Each April kimono-clad folk dancers take part in the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (415/563-2313).

photo by Jen Siska

Click to Enlarge

In the lobby of San Francisco's Hotel Tomo, the Giant Robot vending machine does a brisk business in J-pop T-shirts, caps, and toys.

At nearby Bushi-Tei, the French-California fusion restaurant that won a Michelin star shortly after it opened in November, foodies enjoy an imaginative menu that manages to combine unlikely ingredients like miso-marinated Washugyu beef and camembert cheese.

Though it's 102 years old, Japantown suddenly feels new again.

A pop-culture center is opening here in early 2009, with manga (comics), anime (animation), and street fashion.

But - especially in spring, as cherry blossoms fall like pink snow - there's no need to wait to visit San Francisco's most improved neighborhood.


San Francisco's Japantown is on Geary Blvd., about 1 mile west of Union Square. INFO: or 415/567-4573.


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