Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happiness is a slab of raw fish

Japantown in San Francisco is unbelievably interesting, with a vibrant community life and lots of commerce. I went to the Japan Center today, a three-block mall with a giant concrete pagoda in the middle. You can buy just about anything there: Japanese videos, magazines, books, anime, antiques, Okinawan manufactures. There's a half block of restaurants, where I happily chomped down a seaweed salad and a little plate of sushi at Osakaya. Those are open for lunch, but many of the others, which supposedly have the best sushi, are only open for dinner (and not on Sundays, I've heard). The mall itself has all sorts of decorative touches like bridges, fake cherry trees, waterfalls, rice-paper screens, etc. There are also lots of cafes and bakeries. I had a weird pastry that looked like something you'd get in Paris, but was mango-flavored. Very odd fusion experience.

The community itself still seems alive and well; I strolled past a Zen Buddhist temple, the JACL headquarters (in a green three-story house with a huge porthole window), various community centers, and other Japanese businesses. The mall was full of Japanese, Koreans, whites, and Latinos all shopping and eating together in harmony.

No comments: