For today’s late post, I got some inspiration from my fellow anime bloggers again!
This time, I remember I read a pretty interesting post about a month ago from the great Arria Cross and her blog, Fujinsei. It was about her adventures at a neighborhood filled with Japanese culture and food in her hometown of Toronto, Canada, and you should definitely go check out her post because it’s pretty interesting seeing the similarities and differences between hers and my hometown’s version of J-Town. Also, give her a follow if you haven’t!
Thanks for the inspiration!!! 😀
The city of San Francisco, California is a great one. The large amount of fog we are used to, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the diverse community we have, the devoted Giants baseball and 49ers football sports fans, and breathing in the beautiful San Francisco Bay air while strolling through Fisherman’s Wharf, I absolutely am grateful to call this area my home. I’ve been living and experiencing the Bay Area for my whole life and I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
So while connecting the great city of San Fran with what this blog is based around, anime, there is pretty much only one place that provides people with a lot of Japanese culture, ranging from cuisine and entertainment. And that is Japantown, a neighborhood in the Lower Pacific Heights and near The Fillmore.
There are loads of things related to Japanese culture in this pretty small area. There are amazing restaurants and little booths get food at, cool gift shops, clothing stores, boutiques, basically a bunch of really nice stuff is there to experience. But it’s not only limited to things you can buy. There are also cool events throughout the year such as a an annual Cherry Blossom Festival and even some anime related events that quite a lot of people participate and attend to. Really, every time you go there, you can still have fun.
I actually haven’t been there, maybe ever since last year. And that was before I starting blogging about anime, so this particular time was going to be way different from before, where I was only looking forward to the food lol
Important side note: Even though it’s pretty necessary in order to see how cool this place is, I didn’t take any pictures of the insides of the stores. Pretty much all stores had a decently strict rule about no photos and video recordings and I didn’t want to risk even being yelled at, so I decided against taking pictures inside the stores even though I really wanted to. Most or even all of the photos you see here are from things I got from Google Images and I hope you understand!!!!
So, let’s begin my anime related adventures in this cool little neighborhood!
Right off the bat, this first destination isn’t anime related lol. However, it was a nice Japanese grocery store, Nijiya Market, to walk around and see everything.
It’s your ordinary grocery store, really. A lot of things were obviously Japanese related like snacks, drinks and also had a great selection of fresh fish. It was already like 7:00 in the evening when I got there, so all the prepared food was pretty much gone, but whatever was left had a 20% discount, so I got myself something to eat. I also got my favorite iced coffee drink, UCC Coffee, which you should definitely try.
Next stop is Japan Video, a little store that mainly sell Japanese videos such as anime, dramas, live action films and such. A little thing I noticed right when you enter the store, a short audio recording of some lady saying “Irasshaimase!” occurs, which means “Welcome” in Japanese. I have never seen that happen before even in American stores, so that was interesting.
It actually seemed like a nice place to buy anime DVDs and Blu-Rays and it was sectioned very well. Right at the front, you were presented with the DVDs of the best-selling anime such as The Garden of Words, Koe no Katachi, Your Name, Hibike! Euphonium and they also had a Miyazaki section with his finest works.
Other than anime DVDs, they also were selling posters, plushies and a lot of other anime related things. It’s a nice store to buy Japanese media, if you like collecting the physical stuff.
Right next to Japan Video is Auto Freak, a store that mainly sells everything related to cars.
There wasn’t anything really anime related, except some some things with anime characters that you could put in your car, but this place is nice to walk around in. They sell the more “practical” stuff like steering wheel covers and shit you can put/decorate your car with. They also sell cool car models of all kinds and if you’re into cars, you should definitely swing by here.
When you take a left from the auto store, you will see a little arcade down the hall called Playland Japan with a bunch of Japanese arcade machines you can play.
Before walking in, I was seriously expecting them to have the Love Live! based arcade rhythm game, but it wasn’t there 😦
However, they have some cool and definitely unique arcade and claw machines you can play. I think the most memorable and popular one was Taiko no Tatsujin, a rhythm game where you beat on some taiko drums to a song.
My brother and I went downstairs to the first floor, and overall, it’s a nice lobby you can hang out in with restaurants, a snack booth and little knick-knack shops to explore.
We went to a small shop that sold a bunch of different toys and collectibles called Japantown Collectibles. This store seriously has everything. Ranging from figurines, Nendoroids, Gunpla, trading cards, pins and also including American toys. This store is fucking stacked with toys of all kinds.
If you like collecting toys and collectibles, definitely check out this store. The place is so tiny, yet they fit a bunch of stuff in it!
Alright, last stop since I came to J-Town late and everything was closing at this point. On the same floor, you’ll see a large bookstore called Kinokuniya Bookstore. The store that is downstairs only has anime and manga related things, while the upstairs one had general Japanese media.
So I was on the search of finding Love Live! merchandise and books, no surprise there. And seriously, right when you enter, the next island from the one in front of you, was FILLED with a bunch of μ’s and Aqours stuff. Once I saw the pile of LL merch, I was really tempted to buy something, but I knew I had to wait. I wish I could show you a picture, but I already stated why I can’t. (There was a LL poster for $50!!! jesus christ, don’t you think that’s a little bit too much?)
This store mainly sold books of various kinds. Manga, light novels, art books, a lot of great media. They were in organized sections, and they also separated the English and the Japanese versions of media for our convenience.
Everything I saw was pretty interesting. I got to see a bunch of manga that I only have see the anime for like K-On!, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Shokugeki no Souma, a lot of interesting stuff. I also got to see the light novels that a lot of anime was based off of like the Monogatari series and Saekano, and I always thought that the anime that was adapted from something was only from a manga. You learn something new everyday.
Also, seeing the books with the different art from a lot of anime, especially from the Makoto Shinkai films, I would absolutely buy some of those.
Other than books they also sell different pins, accessories, figurines, wall scrolls, the usual stuff.
If you want to get your anime and manga fix, definitely check out this store if you ever come to Japantown SF. This is the spot.
I wish I could’ve talked about more places that I visited in J-Town, but I got there late and a lot of the stores with anime related items were closed. But, what I showed you today are the places that you should check out if you ever go to this wonderful neighborhood. There are many more interesting places you can check out and I highly suggest you should explore the whole area.
I had a great time collecting some info to blog about Japantown and I really hope you enjoyed reading this! This is now one of my favorite spots to visit whenever I go into San Francisco, for entertainment, to kill time or just to eat good food… and to buy Love Live merch.
San Francisco Japantown Website: http://sfjapantown.org/
Thanks for reading!!!!!!! 😀