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People who are into the sights, sound and taste of the Land of the Rising Sun, Japantown in San Francisco is the perfect destination. Also called as Nihonmachi or J-Town, Japantown is home to approximately 12,000 Japanese Americans and offers tourists and visitors a feel of what it?s like to live in Japan.

Just like the Chinese, the Japanese began migrating to the United States in search of that great American dream. They began flocking into San Francisco in the 1860s and already settled in Chinatown and other residential districts located at residential districts near the southern borders of Market Street. However, the big fire caused by the great earthquake of 1906 forced the Japanese to move and look for another place to live in. They opted for what was known as the Western Addition which was undamaged by the fire located west of Union Square. The Japanese slowly built their homes in the area and soon enough, it transformed into a bustling Japanese district in San Francisco where beautiful residential homes fuse seamlessly with restaurants and specialty stores offering authentic Japanese cuisine and products.

While World War II forced the Japanese out of Japantown temporarily, they were able to resume their way of life and new infrastructures were built to enhance the community. The Japan Center was finished in 1968 and is one of the most important commercial hotspots in the area which include a deluxe hotel and two malls. Several restaurants offer what many critics consider as the best Japanese fares in the West Coast.

Visitors should not forget to take their photo with the Peace Pagoda as the background. Considered as the highlight and main icon of Japantown, it is a 100-foot tall Pagoda given by the people of Osaka to San Francisco. Osaka and San Francisco are actually considered as sister cities which also gives Japantown another nickname: Little Osaka.

Another architectural attraction in Japantown is the Japanese mountain temple gate which serves as the entrance to the Osaka Way. Osaka Way is a scenic and quaint street with tiled with cobblestones and planked by masterfully crafted Japanese abodes. There is likewise the Sokoji-Soto Temple, a Buddhist place of worship which is a must-see. A few art galleries can also fulfill their curiosity for the world-acclaimed Japanese art.
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