San Francisco, CA

How to Experience the Japanese Culture in San Francisco

Jessica Ufuoma

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Yearning to travel somewhere foreign but can't go due to obvious reasons like a pandemic? There are a lot of things you can do within close proximity that will transport you to a foreign place, including Japan.

Japan is a hot tourist destination and many people are curious about what it will be like to experience the vibrant culture in Japan but did you know that in San Francisco, you can get a taste of the richness of Japan without having to board a plane and go a thousand miles over? Read on for some suggestions.

The Bay Area is easily one of the most diverse places in America and a melting pot of cultures. You can visit samurai sword museums, indulge in Japanese afternoon tea or even stuff your face with some yummy Japanese food. There's an area called Japantown where you can enjoy these delights and more.

1.) Have a Bath at a Japanese Onsen

Japan is very active volcanically, so no surprises that there are lots of hot springs there. Onsen, as it is popularly known in Japan is a bathing facility that surrounds a hot spring. Now, in San Francisco, this isn't the case, there's no hot spring around but there's still a bath to give you the feeling of being inside one. Next best thing, I guess.

Onsen SF provides baths starting at about $40 for a 1hr 45 minute bath. This includes a locker and shower use. They are currently closed due to the pandemic but definitely one to look out for when the city starts opening back up again.

Inspired by Japanese bathing culture, our intimate space provides a restful environment to escape from daily routines.

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Photo by OnsenSF

2.) Enjoy Some Sake at Sequio Sake

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It has a very sweet flavor and has about 16 percent of alcohol. If you want to enjoy this, you don't have to go too far. You can visit Sequio Sake, the only sake brewery in San Francisco. They even have virtual tasting that you can indulge in from the comfort of your home.

Sequoia Sake is all about creating fresh, live and accessible sake. We believe the best way to experience sake is to drink it close to the source. That’s why we brew in the heart of San Francisco.

3.) Indulge in some Japanese food

San Francisco has a lot of Japanese restaurants that serve really delicious food that you can try. Staying home for over a year doesn't have to mean being stuck with a certain food pallette. Restaurants like Kusakabe, Akiko Restaurant in Downtown San Francisco, or even Hashiri if you want to go Michelin Star style. There's not a shortage of authentic Japanese food to try in San Francisco and it's the perfect way to prepare your tastebuds for when you eventually visit Japan and want to live like the locals.

4.) Visit a Japanese Tea Garden

A Japanese tea garden is an excellent way to experience Japan and it's so awesome that there's one right in the heart of San Francisco for those who want to explore. They currently reopened in June 2020 with restrictions so you can definitely visit whenever you're ready.

The Japanese Tea Garden provides visitors from around the world with an opportunity to experience the natural beauty, tranquility and harmony of a Japanese-style garden in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
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Photo by Japanese Tea Garden SF

5.) Explore Japan through books and anime

If you're into anime and Japanese pop culture, then you should visit your local Kinokuniya bookstore and get lost in the world of Japanese fiction. Even if you're not into anime, now is a good time to pick up a new hobby or push yourself to do something different in these quieter times.

Located in: Japan Center - Japan Center- Kinokuniya Building, 1581 Webster St, San Francisco, CA.

So there you have it, some fantastic ways to explore the Japanese culture right in San Francisco. When you do any of these, be sure to be respectful of other cultures and open to learning as much as possible.

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I write about lifestyle and travel experiences in the United States. I'm also passionate about Diversity and Inclusion and that reflects in some of the pieces I write. My topics range from culture, travel, uplifting marginalized voices and much more. If you're interested in these topics, feel free to hit the subscribe button.

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