Japan Center

Top choice in Japantown, Fillmore & Pacific Heights

Time-travel to 1968 as you cross Japan Center's indoor wooden bridges, with noren (curtains) and maneki-neko (cat figurines) waving welcomes from restaurant entryways. Hard to believe, but this kawaii-cute mall started with a knock-down fight. While Japanese American residents were interned during World War II, the city planned to tear down Japantown. Postwar, 1500 recently returned Japantown residents were uprooted to build the mall. But Japantown residents and businesses rallied, stopping evictions and converting the mall into a community hub.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Japantown, Fillmore & Pacific Heights attractions

1. Peace Pagoda

0.02 MILES

The spiritual center of Japantown's commercial district is minimalist master Yoshiro Taniguchi's Peace Pagoda. It was donated by San Francisco's sister…

2. Ruth Asawa Fountains

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During drought years you'll have to imagine how they look with water flowing, but even without they're a sight to behold. Celebrated sculptor and former…

3. Konko Church

0.16 MILES

Inside this low-roofed, high-modernist church a blond-wood sanctuary welcomes all faiths. Kindly Reverend Joanne Tolosa will answer questions about…

4. Cottage Row

0.16 MILES

Detour to days of yore, when this neighborhood was a sleepy seaside village – before lumber barons arrived with bombastic Victorian fanfare. Serene…

5. Fillmore Center Waterfall & Plaza

0.31 MILES

This patch of green flanked by apartment towers is open to the public and a welcome break from Fillmore sidewalks. Walk past the fountain at O'Farrell…

6. Haas-Lilienthal House

0.61 MILES

If these red-velvet parlor walls could talk this 1886 Queen Anne–style Victorian could tell you about earthquakes, booms, busts and untimely deaths. This…

7. SF Arts Commission Gallery

0.63 MILES

Get in on the ground floor of the next SF art movement at this public showcase for local talent, with past exhibits ranging from Susan O'Malley's silk…

8. Alamo Square Park


Hippie communes and Victorian bordellos, jazz greats and opera stars, earthquakes and Church of Satan services: these genteel 'Painted Lady' Victorian…