Public statement by the Japantown community regarding the proposed purchase of the Hotel Buchanan by the City and County of San Francisco

This statement is a demand that the Hotel Buchanan be removed from further consideration of City acquisition. Many have tried to paint this as a Japantown vs. the unhoused issue, or just another not-in-my-backyard reaction. It is an age-old tactic to pit vulnerable communities against one another. We will not be used. San Franciscans pride […]

S.F. proposal to purchase of Buchanan Hotel to convert into housing draws fire

The city of San Francisco shocked many within its Japantown community by announcing plans to buy one of two tourist hotels located in the ethnic enclave in order to convert it into permanent supportive housing. “I was shocked, but I was also pissed that something like this would happen, and that it would be fast-tracked,” […]

S.F.: New crosswalk at Buchanan Street to ‘calm the Geary Expressway’

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency introduced a new crosswalk at Buchanan and Geary streets in late July in an effort to make the roadway between Japantown and the Fillmore neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly. The three-mile stretch is considered to be one of the city’s most dangerous crossing areas, as pedestrians are eight times more likely to […]

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, […]

JA community responds to anti-Asian hate

Though the Japanese American community has so far been spared from the brunt of the rise of anti-Asian hate currently making headlines across the United States, many Nikkei are nevertheless concerned. “There are a lot of people who are very worried about it. They’re scared,” retired San Jose Police Department Lt. Rich Saito, told the […]

Supe, Japantown leaders call for vandalized cherry blossom trees to be replaced

A week after cherry blossom trees in San Francisco’s Japantown were found vandalized, Supervisor Dean Preston and leaders from the city’s Japanese community on Jan. 12 called for the trees to be replaced. On Jan. 5, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California took to Facebook to report that two trees outside their […]

S.F. J-Town’s redevelopment-era transformation

THE GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC: JAPANESE AMERICANS AND THE REMAKING OF SAN FRANCISCO By Meredith Oda (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019, 304 pp., $35, paperback) My first visit to San Francisco’s Japantown occurred in May 1974. It came about when I, along with two colleagues in the Japanese American Project of the Oral History […]

A life lesson from John Lennon, in Japantown

Sadness and sorrow. Dec. 8 was the 40th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. Here’s my story on meeting him: I was a young teen in the summer of 1973, hanging out at Paper Tree, when in walks John and Yoko. They smiled at my folks as they wandered through the store, bought some postcards, then […]

San Francisco Japantown businesses receive help, but are far from secure as pandemic ravages economy

San Francisco’s Japantown community has come together to support its retail and restaurants in light of the ongoing pandemic. Such aid has been essential to helping keep many businesses afloat, but a looming threat of evictions for tenants in the Japan Center Malls and the Kinokuniya Building, as well as the unpredictable outlook of the […]

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