Japantown...San Francicso or San Jose?

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Which Japantown is better?

San Francisco
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75%
San Jose
4
25%
 
Total votes: 16

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Japantown...San Francicso or San Jose?

Post by trunkims » Nov 9th, '07, 01:00

I'm planning to go to Japantown again this weekend, well planning on this weekend, just sometime this month for sure, BUT I'd like to get everyones opinion on which one to go to.

Japantown SF: I've been there numerous amounts of times, I like it especially cuz the hotel I stay at is basically connected to the shopping mall which has wonderful shops, good places to eat, a little stand that serves TAIYAKI!!, 2 areas that serve crepes, a bookstore with all kinds of japanese stuff, etc, etc... Denny's is across the street, along with more stores up and down the street.Plus a karaoke place that has private rooms...that was fun, especially after midnight.

Japantown SJ: I haven't been to the Japantown in San Jose, I've seen pictures but that's about it. From the looks of it, it reminds me of the shopping area on Sunset Blvd. in LA. Is there a shopping mall like at SF? The drive is about the same amount of time from where I live to both SF and SJ. But I don't think the streets are as bad in San Jose as they are in SF are they? Are the shops good in Japantown San Jose? Are there hotels adjacent to the area?

Please let me know ASAP so I can reserve a room.

THANKS IN ADVANCE!!

P.S No I'm not asking about Little Tokyo in LA, just Northern California Japantowns
Last edited by trunkims on Nov 9th, '07, 01:38, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by battlegirlai » Nov 9th, '07, 01:22

i prefer japantown in SF...its easier to get around and frankly, its just nicer in SF than san jose (not that there is anything wrong with san jose)...i like the food there better too.

if you get tired of japantown, there is lots more stuff in easy distance to it than there is in san jose.

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Post by Kazuya_ » Nov 9th, '07, 01:24

It sounds like J-town in SF is better suited to what you 're looking for. For one, it's much bigger in area and there are more shops and things that 're looking for.

I haven't been to J-town in SJ for a few years, but unless it's been renovated lately, which frankly seems very unlikely, it's much smaller with fewer shops and restaurants. It's only a couple streets and blocks. There's no shopping mall, either. It's more of a tiny community where Japanese-Americans settled before and after WWII. Not a very touristy place if you ask me. ( Not that its bad or anything ).

Personally, I don't go to either anymore. The grocery stores and shops that I frequent are in other cities and closer. For instance, I go to the grocery store in San Mateo, which isn't technically a Japantown but there are quite a few restaurants in the area. There's also a video store there too.

There's also the shopping area next to Mitsuwa or whatever its called nowadays that has the Kinokuniya inside it that's on Saratoga Ave. That's all the way across town in SJ from the Japantown. I would usually go there before trekking it through the streets of SF anyday.
Last edited by Kazuya_ on Nov 9th, '07, 01:55, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by jholic » Nov 9th, '07, 01:33

i was fortunate enough to visit SF just recently. had a lot of fun exploring the city, and i definitely made it a point to go to japantown there. very impressive. i found the underground shops and restaurants interesting, but there was that one seafood buffet restaurant that i wanted to eat at, and it was closed!! anyways, i was disappointed further because i realized there were more underground areas that i did not explore. i only went to the two that was next to the giant pagoda.

since i have never been to the one in SJ, it would be unfair of me to vote, but it sounds like everyone's nudging toward SF. but since you've been there (SF), shouldn't you just visit the SJ just once to see what it's like? is it expensive to stay there?
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Post by trunkims » Nov 9th, '07, 01:54

jholic wrote:i was fortunate enough to visit SF just recently. had a lot of fun exploring the city, and i definitely made it a point to go to japantown there. very impressive. i found the underground shops and restaurants interesting, but there was that one seafood buffet restaurant that i wanted to eat at, and it was closed!! anyways, i was disappointed further because i realized there were more underground areas that i did not explore. i only went to the two that was next to the giant pagoda.

since i have never been to the one in SJ, it would be unfair of me to vote, but it sounds like everyone's nudging toward SF. but since you've been there (SF), shouldn't you just visit the SJ just once to see what it's like? is it expensive to stay there?
Well this weekend it is, but that's probably cuz it's such short notice, but next weekend is cheaper They've upgraded the Best Western hotel I stayed at before, into a very anime-ish looking place
Image
Image

it's basically across the street from the place.

The other hotel I usually stay at is more japanese themed. But all in all, it's worth it so we don't have to drive through the one-way streets and get lost. We have a navigator, but it's just a hassle to drive around SF

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Post by dochira » Nov 9th, '07, 21:45

For what you're looking for, the SF Japantown would have more to offer than SJ. SJ Japantown is very quaint compared to SF.

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Post by jholic » Nov 10th, '07, 02:31

those were interesting pics of some really cool rooms.

let me share some of the pics i took when i was in SF japantown :roll
#20 is for one of the members i don't see too much anymore (mangosteen)
#21 was a restaurant recommended to me by a little bird
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Post by coldfate » Nov 10th, '07, 03:19

Japantown is San Jose feels rather lacking. If anything go for the one in SF. The town spans a whopping one and a half block. The food around here is so-so. No wonder I would trek to Japantown in SF even though, I live one and half block away from the one in SJ =)

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Post by milleu87 » Nov 10th, '07, 03:25

oh wow japantown looks fun, i'm going to sf too in december, any idea on what to do and visits?

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Post by doink-chan » Nov 10th, '07, 03:58

doinkies has been to both Japantowns. I haven't been to the SF Japantown in a long time but there were a lot more shops there than in SJ's with all sorts of stuff, and also a lot more restaurants. SJ's Japantown is OK, but it's not a big place and there are fewer shops. If you go to the SJ Japantown you should also stop by the Kinokuniya on Saratoga Ave. There's also a Mitsuwa on the same street (next to Kinokuniya) and a few other shops as well.
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Post by Sosuke » Nov 10th, '07, 04:11

I've spent time in both as well, and some of it depends on what you are looking for. SF Japantown has more of the Japanese Mall Exprience, but if you are into anime or something like that SJ Japantown has much better stores. Far Out toys and Nikaku Japanese Arts are better than anything SF Japantown has, plus on Saturdays Far Out Toys has a Maid Cafe for that Akihabara experience. Plus if you also go to Kinokuniya on Saratoga the trips are about the same. SJ definitely has better parking. I do like Mikado in SF Japantown. I actually think the restaurants in both places are about the same in quality. No Benihana's like places in SJ Japantown though, They are all small family places.

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Post by Kazuya_ » Nov 10th, '07, 04:51

Another thing about Japantown in SF that is good to check out if you're in the area at that time of year is the Cherry Blossom Festival. It's in the spring of course, but really pretty cool to see. Haven't been in years ( we used to go every year when I was a kid ) but can't see how it's changed much. There were demonstrations for martial arts, traditional dances, Ikebana, japanese calligraphy, taiko drum show, that sort of stuff. Oh and my favorite, outdoor food booths! Very interesting if you're looking to check out things about japanese culture. The final day is the parade which always draws a big crowd.

here's a link about it:

http://nccbf.org/home/

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Post by quashlo » Nov 10th, '07, 06:29

I have yet to go to the San Jose Japantown, but here's my thoughts on San Francisco's, with probably some useless or trivial ramblings thrown in there but oh well... I suppose it's less helpful for you since you've already been there and know what it's like, but anyways...

- Don't go in you're looking for an experience like Chinatown, where you can (almost) feel like you're in a different country... The Japanese American community in San Francisco is much smaller than the Chinese American community, not to mention the fact that internment and urban renewal pretty much scarred that whole neighborhood. Nonetheless, it's a very fascinating part of the city and still a very vibrant neighborhood where you can run into Japanese students studying abroad here just as easily as 三世 and 四世.

- As mentioned earlier, the best time to go is during one of the various festivals (I know you're going this weekend, but if you ever decide to come by again, etc.)... Cherry Blossom and Nihonmachi Street Fair happen every year and feature lots of food booths, crafts, music, performances, etc. There's also the occasional Asian Heritage Street Celebration which gets rotated to Japantown every once in a while, and a couple months ago they had Aki-matsuri, with the delegation from Osaka coming to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Osaka-San Francisco sister city relationship... To be honest, it was quite a magical, dizzying experience, with the lanterns and lights and all the music and motion... And of course, Osaka Mayor Seki himself was right there dancing with the common folk... After the public event shut down for the night, Seki-shichou and delegation made a beeline for the karaoke bar... heh

- If you do go, do stop by Kinokuniya at least, even if you don't plan on buying anything (I rarely do as it's a little too expensive for my tastes)... They have a wonderful magazine section covering lots of different genres, which they will occasionally try and offload when they don't sell everything... In fact, the occasional one-dollar-a-magazine thing is probably my favorite thing about the place, although it seems they only do that once a year or so... I've picked up a wide variety of Japanese magazines in this fashion, including culinary magazines, high culture/lifestyle magazines, gaming mags, eccentric hobbyist magazines (monthly magazines on airplane-watching, anyone?)... And of course, Kinokuniya has loads of manga, textbooks/dictionaries, and English language books about Japan.

- Can't comment much on the food since I actually don't eat there very often (I actually don't GO there much either)... But I have tried mochi from Benkyodo and I enjoyed it thoroughly. There's also a newer-looking, trendyish confectionary shop called Nipponya just before the bridge over Webster Street... I've shopped there before and was pleasantly surprised by the offerings. There's also some Korean establishments--mainly restaurants--along Post Street and of course the 24-hour Denny's.

- And not related to Japantown per se... You may have something planned out already, but you may want to go visit the Asian Art Museum as they currently have several exhibitions on Japanese art... You just missed the major exhibit on Tezuka Osamu, but I imagine there's still plenty of art to be seen.

- There's also the touristy, but still pleasant, Japanese Tea Garden (the oldest public Japanese-style garden in the US)... Go after 4p (if I remember correctly), and it's free.

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Post by trunkims » Nov 11th, '07, 00:41

Thanks for the input everyone! I have decided to go to SF again...I enjoy it more anyways. I usually stop by the bookstore when I go there and try to make a stop at the fun photo booths they have, although they're usually filled.

I went to my first Cherry Blossom Festival this year and definetly plan on going next year! It was so much fun. There was so much to do I didnt have a chance to hit the takoyaki booth outside along with so many little workshops going on, but i did get to wear my yukata and got tons of complements. I'm definetly going next year on the 2nd week though since the parade is that day.

What is the Nihonmachi Street Fair and when does that occur?

I usually go to Japantown about once every 3-4 months. I'm actually thinking about getting a fastrak pass at this point, it's just too much of a hassle to deal with remembering to get a few dollars for the toll (i don't usually carry cash lol) along with the traffic at the toll booths AND in the city streets on the way to Japantown, but once I'm there, I'm there for HOURS!! lol

There used to be a Japantown Anime Faire there that I went to a few times, but it's moved to a new location. I liked going to the faire cuz I could still shop around.

Any other events that happen in Japantown? I know on the 8th or 9th of next month there's some sort of winter thing going on. Any reviews on that, or is it the first one? I might stop by depending on the weather. I can't drive over the mountains if it's snowing lol.

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Post by trunkims » Nov 11th, '07, 00:54

quashlo wrote:
- There's also the touristy, but still pleasant, Japanese Tea Garden (the oldest public Japanese-style garden in the US)... Go after 4p (if I remember correctly), and it's free.
I think i've missed this place, where is this? Any other places I'm missing out on too?

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Post by Daijoubu » Nov 11th, '07, 01:00

the weather sucks today; i'd save the trip for another time
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Post by Kazuya_ » Nov 11th, '07, 01:05

trunkims wrote:
quashlo wrote:
- There's also the touristy, but still pleasant, Japanese Tea Garden (the oldest public Japanese-style garden in the US)... Go after 4p (if I remember correctly), and it's free.
I think i've missed this place, where is this? Any other places I'm missing out on too?
It's the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

As for the Nihonmachi Street Fair, I can't remember what that was like as I 've only gone once and it was many years ago.

http://www.nihonmachistreetfair.org/

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Post by trunkims » Nov 11th, '07, 01:18

Daijoubu wrote:the weather sucks today; i'd save the trip for another time
It says partly cloudy for tomorrow though, so I might go....who knows....

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Post by laifalove » Nov 11th, '07, 01:26

I suggest you wait a little bit, my parents live in San Jose and they said it's raining. I'm in Southern CA right now, but news reports have been saying it's going to rain again tomorrow. SJ's Japantown is outdoors, there's no little mall like SF.

SF's Japantown is a lot better IMO. SJ's Japantown is a little dead, there's not much there except for a few restaurants, a VERY good mochi shop (it sells out fast though), store that sells bowls/cups/etc., store that sells random Japanese items, and a small market. I'm from San Jose, so I've been to both quite a few times. As for Japanese Tea Garden, try the one in Kelley Park. It's really beautiful. Or Hakone Garden in Saratoga/Los Gatos area. A few scenes from the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" were shot there, it's a beautiful place, especially in the fall. I believe they have formal tea ceremonies there if you wish to participate, but I'm not sure of the scheduling and if an appointment needs to be made in advance.

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Post by Sosuke » Nov 11th, '07, 16:28

The Japanese Tea Garden n SF is located in Golden Gate Park. It's a geat place to sit and relax.

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Post by trunkims » Nov 11th, '07, 18:02

So the plan now is moved up due to weather anyway lol.........so now, more time to plan, hopefully it's good enough to go to the japanese tea garden. Any one have any recommendations of where to eat?

I've eaten at a few of the places there, it was pretty good. What would be some new dishes to try that are really good?

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Post by jemoonette » Nov 29th, '07, 05:00

I've been to Japantown in SF numerous times and I honestly don't see anything great about it =/ The malls are really tiny...and their stores are BLAH, and their sushi&ramen restaurants are mediocre (the ones that I've been to, anyway).

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Post by jholic » Nov 30th, '07, 04:23

jemoonette wrote:I've been to Japantown in SF numerous times and I honestly don't see anything great about it =/ The malls are really tiny...and their stores are BLAH, and their sushi&ramen restaurants are mediocre (the ones that I've been to, anyway).
is it because you've been to better ones, or you just feel it's been hyped up too much?

trunkims: which one did you decide to go to?
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Post by jemoonette » Dec 1st, '07, 00:25

is it because you've been to better ones, or you just feel it's been hyped up too much?
both O_O

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Post by jholic » Dec 1st, '07, 14:49

jemoonette: i liked sf japantown, but i'm interested in which ones you thought were better than that. i haven't been to many.
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Post by trunkims » Dec 2nd, '07, 10:23

jholic wrote: trunkims: which one did you decide to go to?
I went to the SF one again. It was good as usual. I went to Ichiban Kan and got more geisha dolls for a very low price! I plan to buy more at every visit, I got 4 during this last trip!

Played around in the photo booths too, luckily it wasn't too crowded. The pictures turned out nice with all the little styles in them lol

Went to the bookstore, but after searching and searching for something I'd want to get (usually a magazine with some of my fave actors/actresses) but didn't see any. I only came out with a nice calendar to put up for next year.

Also got a little neko display and a bamboo lantern to replace the torn one in my room.

Ate more crepes..mmmmm....so good! And some taiyaki (my boyfriend loves getting them...i make them at home too)

Got a few DVD series too....I think that's about it.......so for me, it was fun!

I wasn't able to go to the gardens due to the weather at the time. Maybe this spring.

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Post by jholic » Dec 2nd, '07, 18:09

sounds like you had fun!
trunkims wrote:Ate more crepes..mmmmm....so good! And some taiyaki (my boyfriend loves getting them...i make them at home too)
aaagh! i knew i forgot something when i was there. now, i'm jealous.

btw, what is taiyaki? did you mean takoyaki (octopus inside breading and yakisoba sauce)?
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Post by trunkims » Dec 5th, '07, 18:34

jholic wrote:sounds like you had fun!
trunkims wrote:Ate more crepes..mmmmm....so good! And some taiyaki (my boyfriend loves getting them...i make them at home too)
aaagh! i knew i forgot something when i was there. now, i'm jealous.

btw, what is taiyaki? did you mean takoyaki (octopus inside breading and yakisoba sauce)?
Taiyaki is basically a little fish-shaped pastry with red bean inside. At SF japantown they have red bean, chocolate, and chocolate-banana. Yumm!!

Takoyaki, they don't have over there, or at least what I know of. The only time I did see it served there was during the Cherry Blossom Fesitval, and that was at one of the many booths there.

btw I checked for hotel rooms durring the festival and WOW are they expensive. 180-300 at the nearby hotels.

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Post by jholic » Dec 6th, '07, 00:39

thanks for the explanation. gonna have to add that one to the list of things to try out.
trunkims wrote:btw I checked for hotel rooms durring the festival and WOW are they expensive. 180-300 at the nearby hotels.
if you go to those sites like slickdeals or fatwallet, they sometimes have deals on hotels and packages. search their forums.
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