San Francisco’s Japantown – also known as “Nihonmachi” – spans over six blocks, it is a retreat and cultural escape within the city on the west coast. It is also the oldest of three remaining Japantowns in the U.S., and offers various options for dining, shopping, relaxation, as well as entertainment.

While we could go on and on with a list of our favorite places, here are five popular reasons to take pictures in this hub of Japanese culture:

Festivals. Throughout the year, Japantown hosts numerous cultural events and street fairs. One of the crowd’s favorite celebrations is our very own Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place on two weekends every April.

This famous springtime festival brings people from all different parts of the city – and beyond – together. Some visitors even come from Japan!

The festival is the second largest cherry blossom celebration in the U.S. – it celebrates rich Japanese heritage, and reinforces Japanese-American community. The festival’s program is highly varied, filled with traditional and contemporary performances and cultural activities for everyone. So take as many pictures as you can, and don’t forget to tag them with #NCCBF50, when you share them! We’d like to see them all.

Monuments. The Peace Pagoda, a landmark at the heart of Japantown’s Peace Plaza was donated to San Francisco by its sister city Osaka, Japan in 1968. 1968 also marks the first year the Cherry Blossom Festival was held.

The pagoda is a five-tiered concrete stupa located between Post Street and Geary Boulevard.

Designed by Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, the concrete structure is a symbol of peace and unity. It is for sure one of the most photographed spots in Japantown!

Food & Dessert.  Besides street lined storefronts, Japantown also has Japanese-oriented shopping centers, with plenty of places to eat.

An all time favorite are the pictures of ramen dishes taken there. Big bowls of silky noodles simmered in a flavorful broth have conquered various social media platforms. Don’t forget that the Cherry Blossom Festival also has its own food area, where you can buy your favorite Japanese-style outdoor food from different non-profits!

And when it comes to the sweet tooth, Belly Good Cafe & Crepes is one of the most photographed spots on Instagram. This shop makes creative and cute Japanese-style crepes, which can be customized with a wide variety of ice cream options and toppings. Yummy!

Entertainment. Beyond the eateries and arts & crafts shops, Japantown is also worth visiting for a karaoke night, a movie or an interactive escape game.

To experience a bit of Japanese pop culture, come to Pika Pika hidden in the back of the Japanese Center West Mall.

It’s not the usual photo booth: after the photo shoot, you get to edit the pictures, add stickers and decorate them as much as you want.

Pika pika #ピカチュウの日

A post shared by christine ri (@pikazardchu) on

Relaxation. The Kabuki Springs & Spa is an oasis of relaxation, and a Japanese style bathing experience in Japantown.

This is the place to go if you seek to unplug from the hustle of a busy life, and to enjoy the variety of offered spa services.

You might even take a picture of your favorite spot, but don’t forget to turn your smartphone to silent mode while you are there.

Me time 😌🍵🇯🇵

A post shared by Cynthia (@cstar515) on

What’s your favorite place in San Francisco’s Japantown? Let us know in the comments!

The 50th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival will take place on April 8-9 and 15-16, while the Grand Parade will be held on April 16th! Don’t forget to tag your pictures with #NCCBF50, while you are out and about.

Halyna Yakubovich
NCCBF Guest Blogger

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