Shopping delights of San Francisco Japantown


I can spend hours wandering around San Francisco’s Japantown, marveling at the curiosities in its boutiques. My first stop is always the Kinokuniya Bookstore in the Japan Center. Kinokuniya boasts the largest selection of Japanese books and magazines in the city. I am fascinated by Japanese women’s fashion magazines, which are so different from ours. They show many ways of putting together outfits and profile a seemingly endless supply of beauty creams, many of which are whitening lotions (in contrast to the obsession with tanning in the West). There are even stranger Lolita magazines which show teenage girls in top-to-toe pink outfits surrounded by pink teddy bears.

Then, I pop over to the Kinokuniya Stationery and Gift store which is a perfect place to find good writing paper (in A4 format!), gel writing pens, slick pencils, beautiful blank notebooks and more bizarre paraphernalia I have not yet even figured out (the instructions are, sadly, in Japanese).

I also make sure I stop by Asakichi Incense to replenish my incense supply. The selection at Asakichi is immense and the sales staff are more than happy to find the incense of your dreams or to help you pick incense for a friend. Don’t forget to buy the gorgeous incense holders. These make lovely gifts. There is another incense boutique called Japan Incense, which is also wonderful. Finally, if you are looking for a super-funky T-shirt, stop by Super 7 which sells unusual, trendy designs. The vibe is skater-hacker-snowboarder chic.

Kinokuniya, Asakichi and Japan Incense are all in the Japan Center, a giant shopping mall between Geary and Post. Super 7 is on Post Street. If you get hungry and crave sushi, go to the “sushi boat” restaurant, Isobune, in the Japan Center. The sushi is inexpensive and fresh.

Kinokuniya Bookstore
Japan Center
1581 Webster Street # 165
San Francisco, CA 94115
+1 415 567 7625

Kinokuniya Stationery and Gift store
Japan Center
1581 Webster Street # 218
San Francisco, CA 94115
+1 415 567 8901

Asakichi Incense
1730 Geary Boulevard # 209
San Francisco, CA 94115
+1 415 921 8292

Japan Incense
1737 Post Street # 335
San Francisco, CA 94115
+1 415 931 2002

1628 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
+1 415 409 4703

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Check out my favorite restaurants in San Francisco:

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About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Shopplr, a site on fashion, beauty and design. Esme is the founder of (travel guides and hotel reviews) and MuniWireless (WiFi networks).