Saturday brought with it beautiful blue skies and a hankering for sushi. Since we had nothing planned for the day, we figured we might as well make lunch an event. Rather than ordering in, or walking down to our corner spot, we decided to head to Japantown.

I’ll admit up front, I had high hopes, but low expectations. First of all, for reasons that are still cloudy to me, San Francisco isn’t great for sushi. After two years, I feel pretty confident in saying that. But since I’m no foodie, and wouldn’t win in a debate with one on this topic, I’ll go ahead and concede right here that there are probably SOME great sushi places in SF. I’ll just say not enough of them. Certainly not for a city that has at least enough of a Japanese population/affection to warrant a ‘Japantown.’ (On that subject, we’re also appallingly short on good karaoke bars; though that may not be an opinion widely shared)

The second reason I wasn’t expecting much is that Japantown doesn’t really look like much. I drove by it for months before I even realized I was driving by it. That’s not an exaggeration; according to my extensive research (ahem, Wikipedia) Japantown is only 6 square city blocks. We live less than a mile from there, and had never felt adequately compelled to visit. Even the people who helped introduce us to the city when we got here never tried to sell us on the place.

But with our renewed commitment to live like tourists, as previously discussed, we grabbed the camera and the stroller and started walking. Hoping for something at least worth remembering.

The rest of the story is captured here in pictures. I’ll summarize by saying that we had a really nice time, and I’m glad that we checked that off our list. We didn’t find the holy grail of sushi, but if we hadn’t bothered to try, I would have never known how much we had missed out on in Japantown. It’s not a huge place, and it’s not somewhere you could spend days exploring, but it was different. And for an afternoon, it definitely felt like we were visiting a new city, which is always one of the coolest things to accomplish in your own city.

If there's one place you don't have to feel self-conscious about asking someone to take your picture, it's Japantown. Surprising no one, everyone has a camera. In fact, the person who took this did so only after I took a picture for her and her friends.


Yeah, well Fuku, too.
(I think I have an idea of how to actually pronounce this, but they should know how I intend to pronounce it...we moved on)

Baby tourist at lunch. We found an inexpensive sushi/noodle place where the menus were in Japanese and the majority of diners were Asian. A good sign. Another good sign was the "Michelin Guide Recommended" sign on the wall up front. So why was the Benihana across the way from this place so crowded? Not everything tourists do is worth imitating.

'You guys gonna finish that?'

A lot of Japantown is dedicated to shopping. Can't be sure, but I think this guy's wife was probably off trying something else on. At least that's the look that I usually get.

In the words of Noel Gallagher (and later, Chris Pacetta), 'step outside summertime's in bloom...'

I might be taking this living like a tourist too far. Starting to dress like one, too. Good bye and thanks for hosting us, Japantown. Sorry I underestimated you.