March 25, 2021 by Andrea Rajic

A day in: Japantown, San Francisco

Our A Day In series highlights the amazing neighborhoods of Gable workspaces, and the small businesses that make these communities vibrant, unique, and loved.

San Francisco’s Japantown (also known as Nihonmachi) is the biggest and oldest among only a handful of Japantown neighborhoods in the US.

It’s a 6-block area located in the Western Addition, and even though it’s probably less famous than San Francisco’s legendary Chinatown, there’s a myriad of things to see and places to visit in this vibrant and cool neighborhood.

Japantown is a celebration of Japanese-American friendship, the contribution of Japanese people to American society, and the amazing cultural landscape reflected in eateries, stores, and landmarks alike.

Let’s dive into the best ways to spend a day in Japantown in San Francisco:

Start your day at YakiniQ Cafe

Before beginning your day in Japantown, grab a cup of coffee at YakiniQ Cafe, famous for its sweet potato latte and other coffee varieties. They have outdoor seating, too, so on a sunny day, it’s just the place to start a beautiful morning.

black sesame latte at YakiniQ Cafe

Take a stroll around the Peace Plaza

The Peace Plaza and the beautiful Peace Pagoda are located between Post Street and Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.

The Peace Pagoda was constructed in 1968, as a symbol of the Japanese-American friendship, and was mainly funded by contributions from San Francisco’s sister city, Osaka. The pagoda is a five-tiered concrete stupa, it is 100-feet tall, and it was designed by Yoshirō Taniguchi.

It’s a wonderful area to walk around in, especially in the spring, when the blossoming cherry trees give the place a pop of color and a picturesque feel.

Peace Plaza and Pagoda in San Francisco

Set up your office at Hotel Kabuki

If you’re looking for a place to set up shop for the day and get to work, there’s no better place than Hotel Kabuki. It’s a wonderful mix of modern and vintage decor, with an amazing atmosphere for both focused work and meeting with your colleagues. You can book a productive workday at Kabuki by signing up for Gable and picking your date and time.


Grab a donut at Mochill

If you haven’t tried mochi donuts, the rice flour-based, chewy Japanese dessert, Mochill is just the place you’re looking for. Use your day in Japantown to visit this amazing business, offering a huge flavor variety of the chewy, textured donuts you know you’ve been craving. Mochill is located in Post Street in Japantown, but also has locations in Oakland and San Jose - useful to know for your next road trip planning.

Mochi donuts at Mochill SF

Check out Daiso

Daiso is a chain of specialized Japanese discount stores, often compared to the usual dollar store. However, it’s nothing like the stores you might have in mind - they offer an unusually large variety of specialized items, including beautiful “kawaii” designs. If you want to grab a taste of Japanese culture, here you can find traditional items to buy, such as calligraphy tools and sensu fans, among other things. Daiso is located at 22 Peace Plaza in Japantown, so don’t forget to stop by when you’re in the neighborhood.

Daiso Store USA

Stock up on books at Kinokuniya Bookstore

The Kinokuniya bookstore is located inside the Kinokuniya mall, and it’s been there for a while: since 1969, to be more specific. It belongs to a Japanese chain of bookstores and it’s well known for its high-quality books that often focus on Japan, but there’s a growing selection of English-language books and general topics. Still, if you’re looking for manga comics, we warmly recommend this as the place to go.

Kinokuniya bookstore in SF

Stop by Daeho

Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef soup is a popular Korean restaurant in Japantown, well known for its soup served in cauldrons and a communal, inviting atmosphere. However, our top recommendation is the kalbijjim, the restaurant’s namesake dish, which at Daeho you can get in a buttery French croissant. Talk about a fusion of flavors!

Daeho SF Kalbijjim

Get your groceries at Nijiya

The Nijiya market is a Japanese supermarket with a superb selection of high-quality foods, including fresh produce, organic food, and the inevitable sushi selection to dream of. Whether you’re a well-versed lover of Japanese food or just a newbie enthusiast, this is your go-to destination for fresh, delicious groceries.

Nijiya supermarket

Stay at the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel

The Kimpton Buchanan Hotel is a boutique hotel in Japantown, with an elegant design and a quiet atmosphere. It’s perfect for visitors looking to stay in this lovely San Francisco neighborhood, especially if they’re looking for a pet-friendly hotel. The wi-fi is free for guests, and the hotel also offers free bikes for sightseeing.

Kimpton Buchanan hotel lobby

There's a full day of enjoying Japantown in San Francisco! If you're coming to Japantown to work in a Gable space, let us know your recommendations for the best small businesses in the area!

Written By

Andrea Rajic

© 2022 Gable