Japantown Peace Plaza, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2013

In the last day of our stay in SF we were riding the bus along Filmore Street when we noticed the large sign for the Japan Centre. Let's check it out. We entered the centre and first impression was very pleasant. Mall organized on the "Japanese" way turned out to be much larger than anticipated. The biggest surprise was that there was a public square created between two large wings of the mall.

Japantown Peace Plaza is a center of the Japan Town [also called Nihonmachi] first established in 1870s and significantly enlarged after earthquake in 1906. Largest Japanese community in North America at that time stretched over 30 blocks. During the Second World war and forced internment and immediately after the war it was changed. Today it is much smaller but once again thriving community specially after Japan Center complex was opened in 1968.

It was designed by Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi and presented to San Francisco by the people of Osaka, Japan. Originally it was called the Japanese Cultural and Trade Center. Peace pagoda – Buddhist stupa is taking the most dominant place on the square.

Whole area of the square, closely connected to the pedestrian street to the north and other surrounding streets are accommodating numerous restaurants and stores that have facades to give the Japantown an old Japanese village look. Couple of beautiful fountains and attractive and comfortable seating areas, with some nice street furniture touches are completing the feeling of the Japanese sensuality for design. It is quite socially active and, in my opinion, it is significant contribution to the city's vitality.

You'll find many interesting and one-of-a-kind shops that sell Japanese wares inside and outsides of the mall. Many stores cater to the tourist, but the excellent restaurants cater to the locals. Some claim the best sushi can be found here.

TIP FOR VISITORS: Don't miss Kinokuniya Bookstore inside the mall, branch of the famous Japanese chain and carrying an extensive collection of Japanese books and some exciting English titles, too!

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urban squares initiative by aleksandar janicijevic is licensed under a creative commons attribution-share alike 2.5 canada license.

Last time updated on Friday, January 30, 2015, 4:15 PM