San Francisco, California audio tour: Food, History and Resistance in Japantown

Food, History and Resistance in Japantown

Walking Tour

|
90 mins
|
0.9mi

About the Tour

If you love learning about history, finding artwork hidden in plain sight, and receiving restaurant and shop recommendations only a local would know about, this walking tour through the nation's oldest Japantown is for you.

As a Japanese American who moved to San Francisco in 2011, it was important to me to live as close to Japantown as possible. Since then I've visited Japantown weekly and learned so much about the history and present of the community.

In 2016, I noticed that the highest offices of American government were spewing the same anti-immigrant rhetoric used to discriminate against and forcibly incarcerate the Japanese American community during World War II. I realized that hundreds of thousands of people visit Japantown each year, many without learning about our history. My small act of resistance was to create this tour to preserve and honor our history, to bring business to some of my favorite shops, and to share my love of our resilient community.

On this walk, you can look forward to:

• Seeing the Mihara family's historic origami shop and art gallery. Third-generation business owner Linda Mihara will share her family's history and take you to visit her childhood home.
• Taking in one of several locations where Japanese families stood holding only what they could carry to board buses to concentration camps.
• Hearing an introduction to the storied Black history of the neighborhood, often referred to as the Harlem of the West.
• Visiting the tea shop where I (and many local tea ceremony students and teachers) get freshly ground matcha from Kyoto.
• Sampling handmade sweet manju from a 100+ year-old shop, one of the last few remaining in the country.

Kristin (your guide) is the founder of Nourish Co. a lifestyle company that helps multi-racial people and families create nourishing new rituals, drawing from time-honored wisdom. https://nourish-co.com

Music:
Cal Raijin Taiko
The Jazz Piano - Bensound
Hip Jazz - Bensound
Goh Nakamura

Photos credits:
Tori Gate - Julie Leong
Kinmongakuen - Dorthea Lange
Peace Pagoda - Renee Lynn Frojo

Tour Producer

avatar

Kristin Eriko Posner

Japanese American & Jewish home cook, entertaining expert and community organizer in San Francisco, CA.

Major Landmarks

  • Origami Fountains

  • Peace Pagoda

  • Japantown Mall

Directions to Starting Point

Meet me under the red torii gate at where Sutter and Buchanan Streets cross.

Osaka Way
QHPC+J2 Western Addition, San Francisco, CA

By Bus: #2, #3, #22 and #38 bus lines all stop in Japantown.
By Car: Metered and 2 hour parking is available in the neighborhood
By Lyft or Uber (destination: Osaka Way)

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Tips

Places to stop along the way

Paper Tree, Benkyodo, Hinodeya Ramen

Best time of day

This tour is best between 10:30am - 3:30pm on Wednesday-Saturdays, when all of the businesses on the tour are open. Though it can be taken at any hour, any day, taking the tour during this window is highly recommended! Most places are open until 6pm with the exception of the 112-year-old Japanese sweets shop.

Precautions

Come hungry! There will be optional snacks and meal recommendations along the way.

Bring cash for a manju, a traditional Japanese confection at a 100+ year-old neighborhood institution.

Wear comfortable walking shoes and layers- it can be hot and sunny, then foggy, within a couple of hours in Japantown.

Comments

Perfect way to learn about my city while we are all safe distancing!

Posted by Erick , 10 months ago

Loved it. Good
Length, great balance of
Information (history, shopping, food)

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , over 1 year ago

What an incredible tour. Everyone should take it. Visitors and residents alike. Thank you!

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , almost 2 years ago

I'm a local, and really enjoyed this audio tour! Some visitors recently asked me to give them a tour of Japantown, and while I was familiar with many of the shops and restaurants, I realized I wasn't very familiar with the history of Japantown. Kristin's tour provided a lot of great and interesting facts that I wasn't aware of, and has given me a whole new and better perspective of the community. I highly recommend this tour to others!

Posted by Nikki , about 3 years ago

A wonderful tour of Japantown giving a rich history of the families and establishments that have been in the community for many generations. Kristin takes you to many different places old and new and guides you through the background of each place pointing out the key locations and moments that have made up Japantown. You'll go beyond what meets the eye with little details and facts that truly make this community special. Kristin beautifully weaves in various stories along the journey making it even more personal and enjoyable. I highly recommend this tour to anyone curious about Japantown.

Posted by Arisa , about 3 years ago

I loved being guided around the neighborhood with this app! The stories on the tour were really immersive. I'm a local, and saw so many cool spots that gave me new perspective on Japantown

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 3 years ago

This tour will make you appreciate the beauty of this Japantown - maybe even make you cry (but for all the right reasons). Kristin’s narrative is like being led by your favorite grade school teacher on a nostalgic field trip: it’s comforting to listen to, informative and super entertaining with the amazing music she’s chosen for the tour. You feel like a pro/insider after walking this tour, and it will leave you wanting to experience it all over again another day.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 3 years ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Food, History and Resistance in Japantown