Exploring community through a video game

There’s now a fun and easy way to visit Japantown, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home without having to wear a set of silly $3,500 VR goggles to do it. “J-Town: A Visual Novel” delves into the present state of the Japanese American experience, particularly for those involved in […]

A Soyful Experience: The 11th Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival

An energetic crowd, an eclectic collection of vendors, a variety of entertainers and, most importantly, a rare sunny but not so windy day on the San Francisco Peace Plaza blessed the 11th Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival June 3 with a packed crowd of soy aficionados. The second Soy and Tofu Festival since the […]

An immersive introduction to San Jose Japantown

SAN JOSE — Visitors to San Jose’s Japantown on May 20 had an “Immersive” experience as San Jose Taiko took over the intersection at Fifth and Jackson streets. Drummers jumped around the intersection facing every which way to perform for an audience that gathered in the middle of the closed-off streets. Joining the familiar resounding beats […]

Committee presents 12 notables for history mural as community debates

The San Francisco chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League held its fifth public meeting Jan. 30 on the proposed history mural at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California in San Francisco’s Japantown. Advisory committee members announced a slate of 12 people that they suggested the chapter board consider depicting on the […]

Mark Izu’s ‘Songs for J-Town’ evokes memories and hopes

Mark Izu assembled performers from across the United States and spent years putting together “Songs for J-Town,” but he only expected around 60 people to attend the April 23 world premiere at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco when he scheduled the show during the height of the omicron surge. Instead, more than 400 people […]

Benkyodo: The bittersweet end of an era at S.F. Japantown’s oldest business

Ricky Okamura clocks in to work at 3 a.m., typically hours before the first customer walks in to his store, but on March 26, his first customer beat him there by three hours, pitching a tent and lining up for manju outside Benkyodo Company in San Francisco’s Japantown.  Lines have wrapped around the block, starting […]

S.F. Supe proposes naming Japantown pedestrian mall after late artist Ruth Asawa

San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston this week proposed naming Japantown’s Buchanan Mall after the famed and late artist Ruth Asawa. Asawa, who was of Japanese descent, is known for her bold metal and wire sculptures ? located in public spaces throughout the city and various other cities like Oakland, San Jose, and St. Helena. Some […]

Statement from former CANE members on the sale of the Buchanan Hotel in S.F. Japantown

The Committee Against Nihonmachi Eviction (CANE) 50th Anniversary Committee formed ten months ago to commemorate CANE’s fight to preserve San Francisco’s Japantown and to share this history with future generations. Coincidentally our committee’s work is taking place during intense community discussions about the future of the Buchanan Hotel site and Japantown as a whole. Even […]

The Bay Area’s Japantowns adjust to the new normal

With California’s June 15 economic reopening, businesses across the San Francisco Bay Area have gained a new sense of normalcy. The recovery process has varied according to individual businesses, even among the region’s two Japantowns. A Mixed Bag of Results in San Francisco’s Japantown When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced bars could reopen May 6 with […]

Owners of Benkyodo, S.F. J-Town’s oldest business, plan to retire at end of year

Japanese confections have been a San Francisco Japantown staple for more than a century, and while several similar businesses have come and gone, Benkyodo Company remains the last one standing, serving up fresh handmade mochi to customers since 1906. Community members, however, are learning that Bobby and Ricky Okamura, the brothers who run the shop, […]