Trip to Japantown

After visiting the American Bookbinders Museum, we headed over to Japantown. Most Japanese immigrants to the United States arrived via San Francisco.

According to Wikipedia, there used to be 43 distinct Japantowns in California, but that number has dwindled down to three. In addition to San Francisco, you can find Japantowns in both San Jose and Los Angeles.

When you arrive at the San Francisco Japantown, you’re greeted by a torii gate (Sacred Bird gate) built in 1976. I had seen several torii gates when I was in Japan and they were fairly elaborate – this one was much more industrial in design:

Japantown, San Francisco

In the center of Japantown Peace Plaza is the San Francisco Peace Pagoda. The pagoda was designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi and built in the 1960’s. It was presented as a gift from Osaka, San Francisco’s sister city in Japan. In 2015, there was a proposal to grant the pagoda landmark status by the Historic Preservation Commission, but it looks like the application hasn’t yet been approved.

Japantown, San Francisco

San Francisco Peace Pagoda

I bought a couple of things during my visit, but no paper. I’m not really sure how I managed to restrain myself. Anyway, one thing I got was a tube of Yamato Sticking Paste. It’s made of tapioca starch, is non-toxic, and doesn’t wrinkle paper. The tube is also fun to squeeze.

Yamato sticking paste

Yamato sticking paste

According to This to That, the paste has a tendency to yellow over time. We’ll just have to see how the stuff works out.

I also bought myself a new chopstick rest for my glue brush. This is a tip I learned from a workshop neighbor – it’s great for keeping your glue brush from rolling off the table.

Green chopstick rest

Green chopstick rest and glue brush

My dream was to visit the Japantown Kinokuniya that day, but I didn’t get into the store. Again. Just like 9 years ago, but without the power outage. I got turned around and couldn’t figure out where it was – Google Maps fail. I’m telling you, there’s something weird out there that just does not want me to visit this store.

The next time I go to San Francisco, I’m going to Kinokuniya FIRST. This I vow.

Japantown is definitely worth a visit. If you plan on going, here are the details on how to get there.

6 Responses to “Trip to Japantown”

By Claire Ventre - 18 January 2019 Reply

Looks like you had a wonderful time! I love the idea of the chopstick rest – and I love the one you got!! Can you tell me where you got it – I NEED one!

By Elissa - 18 January 2019 Reply

Claire –

I’m not sure – it seems I’ve been negligent in entering that receipt. Grrr…

It may have been Daiso. If/when I track down the receipt, I’ll let you know.


By cmventre - 18 January 2019 Reply

Thanks Elissa – I would love to gift these too!

By Elissa - 8 February 2019 Reply

Hi Claire –

I can confirm that the chopstick rest was purchased at Daiso. Go forth and shop!


By cmventre - 8 February 2019

Hi Elissa,

Thanks so much for letting me know where you got your rest!

Unfortunately I can only shop online and I don’t see itL

By Elissa - 9 February 2019

Hi Claire –

Well that’s a bummer!


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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