Japan Town in San Francisco

The Japan Center, though looks quite conventional, has many delightful restaurants and shops, stairways and open courtyards and is considered as the focal point of Japanese culture in the middle of San Francisco. The Peace Pagoda, designed by the famous Japanese architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, is a five-storied stupa which is a contribution by the people of Osaka, Japan to San Francisco.
San Francisco’s Japantown share its borders with California, Geary, Octavia, and Fillmore Streets. It has about 150 small and medium sized businesses with plentiful affordable housing complexes for seniors. It also has non-profit organizations like the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Kimochi Senior Center, Nihonmachi Little Friends (preschool), national headquarters for the Japanese American Citizens League, the Japantown Task Force, the Japanese Benevolent Society, and the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of America. (2000 Census, 2006)
History: The first Japanese also called as Soko’ resided in San Francisco during early 1860s. Initially they lived in Chinatown and in neighborhoods south of Market Street. Post the disastrous earthquake and fire in 1906, these Soko’s started moving to the Western Addition where they opened their own centers of prayers and typical Japanese shops and restaurants. The area slowly started to look Japanese in every manner and was soon looking like a Ginza which was later known as Nihonmachi, or Japantown. It was the dawn of San Francisco’s Japanese American community.
San Francisco, California houses the largest Japantown in United States of America. However, it is smaller than the one which was prevalent in United States prior to the World War II. It so happened that after the invasion on Pearl Harbor by Japanese, the US authorities took Japanese Americans into custody and put them in concentration camps. At the same time, African Americans encroached on the vacant neighborhood. These thousands of African Americans had come in search of wartime industrial jobs. However, after the war, Japanese Americans returned along with Japanese immigrants closely followed by investments from the Japanese government as well as Japanese companies. Owing to the redevelopment plans by Justin Herman in the 1960 to 1980, the African Americans were relocated to places like Fillmore district in the west, Tenderloin in the east and Hunters Point in the south.
At this point of time, many residents of San Francisco decided against returning after the World War II resulted in forced captivity of Japanese Americans – some being probably second or third generation Americans since 1942-45. About one-third of the internees decided to relocate themselves in the East and Midwest after the encouragement of the War Relocation Authority. During the period of 1950’s, JapanTown was negatively impacted by this redevelopment due to the widening of Geary Boulevard and the obliteration of scores of Victorians for the construction of the boulevard and the Japan Center Mall.
Inspired by the conventional Japanese pedestrian walkways, the famous Webster Bridge was also designed. The Miyako hotel at Post and Laguna has a charming Japanese garden. Also seen is one of the favourite destinations, the twin origami-style fountain in the middle of the one block open air mall which extends from Peace Plaza north toward Pacific

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