Japantown, San Francisco, California

"Little Osaka" redirects here. For the community in Los Angeles, California, see Sawtelle Boulevard.

Japantown (also known as "Nihonmachi" (ja: 日本町), "Little Osaka," and "J Town") comprises about six square city blocks in the Western Addition of San Francisco. The area is home to a large number of 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. The main thoroughfare is Post Street. 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.


San Francisco's Japantown is the largest and oldest such enclave in the United States. However, it is only a shadow of what it once was before World War II. Presently there are only two other Japantowns in the United States.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government took Japanese Americans into custody and interned them in internment camps, while many large sections of the neighborhood remained vacant. The void was quickly filled by thousands of African Americans who had left the South to find wartime industrial jobs in California. Following the war, some Japanese Americans returned, followed by new Japanese immigrants as well as investment from the Japanese Government and Japanese companies.

The city made efforts to rejuvenate the neighborhood; as a result of the massive redevelopment initiated by Justin Herman in the Western Addition in the 1960s through the 1980s, large numbers of African Americans were pushed west towards the Fillmore District, east towards the Tenderloin, or south towards Hunters Point where the majority of the city's African-American population resides today.

In 1957, San Francisco entered in a sister city relationship with the city of Osaka, hence the nickname "Little Osaka". Osaka is San Francisco's oldest sister city. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this relationship, one block of Buchanan Street, in Japantown, was renamed Osaka Way on 8 September 2007.

Annual street festivals/fairs

San Francisco Japantown celebrates two major festivals every year:

  • The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (held for two weekends every April).
  • The Nihonmachi Street Fair (held one weekend in the month of August).

Other annual community events

See also


External links

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