San Francisco is the most beautiful city in places, despite it’s problems. Japantown is in existential danger: the Japantown mall owners are not giving the small businesses that operate within the malls, a break on their rent nor the utilities standard service charges for the months they were not allowed to open due to government orders. Rents are high, margins are slim, and already the Mall is seeing closures. Currently only Japanese themed shops are allowed to operate from the mall, if all the small businesses leave, I suspect this will change, and we will see what is left of Japantown diminish and basically disappear.

Japantown used to cover 40 blocks of the Western Addition, it is now about 6 blocks, and in reality just a couple of streets – Post, Laguna and Buchanan. The malls and Peace Plaza are the center of Japanese American life. In this age where anti-Asian hatred requires federal intervention, destroying a small and industrious Japanese American community seems somehow just a symptom of that hatred. I found myself wondering if Capitalism is essentially racist and misogynistic, and probably should go and report myself to the McCarthyist Reds under the Beds guardians against the Commie menace. I am no Communist, but there are such inequalities based on things out of people’s control, that capitalism is hardly doing a great job. Who knows. I’m just a writer, who likes to take a few photos now and again.

Whichever, whatever it is, I hope Japantown is saved, but with the increasing losses of beautiful little shops and the livelihoods of their owners in Japantown, I don’t see much hope for a positive resolution.

Forest Books: The best little bookstore in San Francisco
Looking towards Peace Plaza and the Pagoda from Buchanan


  1. leendadll

    Wow.. it looks a lot like “Little Tokyo” in downtown LA! Esp with the fire tower.

    The main mall in Little Tokyo and our small “Chinatown” both seemed to be struggling long before the pandemic. As I see how many businesses closed throughout Long Beach, I imagine things are tough for those areas too.

    But we also have “Sawtelle”. And a large portion of Torrance and Gardena are Japanese businesses.

    Sorry I haven’t been reading or commenting… got caught up in my stupid drama. I hope I’m back to norm for awhile.

      1. leendadll

        I had 6 increasingly bad work days. Finally snapped yesterday. But also got a xanax refill so today I’m MUCH better! Plus boss is “on vacation” (still emailing), and I’m only “working” a half day due to another dentist appt.

        My primary cats seem well. And momma & the 4 kittens stayed in my bedroom last night, which made me VERY happy. AND I caught 2 loose dogs so they could be reunited with their very panicked owners.

        Sooo…. as of this minute, Life is good!

      2. The Paltry Sum

        I just caught up with your posts. Darling you can’t carry on being made to feel so miserable by work! I wish I could help! Well done on the husky catching…and yea for xannies!

  2. Greg Taniguchi

    I’ve been wondering about the Bay Area, and I have been wanting to do something to address the issues of violence happening there.

    I have been trying to figure it all out, and I think the cities changing demographic over the last 20+ years is the issue (in fact, from San Jose, Mountain View, to SF). I think all the transplants in tech who are from all over the country/world has contributed to that. I think that because as for LA, I would not say the pandemic has anything to do with “Asian hate” on Japantown or Sawtelle Japantown. In fact, the SGV had a downtown from the Asian community months prior in business because many of them were already aware of the dangers of respiratory viruses such as SARS. Meanwhile the greater community kept patronizing these businesses without a care. All or any of the issues of violence later on were obviously due to the economic impact the pandemic has had on all people.

    One thing I wholeheartedly believe, and you are so right about Jtown not recovering. This will decimate the already flailing community that has slowly becoming only Japanese in theme. I’m sure this will only speed up the up the process of businesses getting sold off to other owners which will subtlety change the community/vibe for a long time.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      I agree to a certain extent. Japanese business culture is a nightmare. Work until you die of ‘karoshi’, give everything to the company, inflexible and demanding. Doing things the way they have always been done, because these companies are little empires ruled by old men who have fought for survival in an inu eat inu world. The ones who fail get the ‘window seat’, kept because you can’t get rid of the fuckers, and sidelined to keep their failure or else their rebellion out of the way of….things being done as they have always been done.
      Japan was closed off from the rest of the world for so long and remain with that ware ware nihonjin – WE ARE JAPANESE pride…which is all well and good, but without the desire to interact and get to know the rest of the world, I am no business person but I can’t imagine that is how money is made!
      Hoodlums, huh! I hate guns. Give peace a chance an all that jazz….
      kind regards,
      the caucasian nail that stuck out in Tokyo

      1. Greg Taniguchi

        You can hate guns, self defense/martial arts, etc. The point is, to be in a position of not being the victim, it has nothing to do with using it (or fighting… you learn it so that you don’t have fight). Actually, the first thing you are taught, if you are caught bullying or fighting, and not in self defense, you will get the boot (you are not wanted). Your outlook on this is like sheep vs the wolf, you are strictly the sheep 🐑, wow… you personally need to go to a jiu jitsu dojo (open your mind)..

      2. The Paltry Sum

        You have your way, and your truth…I have mine. I respect yours. I suggest you interact with me in a more respectful way. Being rich and successful doesn’t give you the right to come to my blog and call me a sheep. In other words….behave, Greg.

    2. Greg Taniguchi

      You are aware of fighting monks? You learn to fight, so that you don’t have to. You talk about your husband, but if you met or saw my female friends, he would never mess with them. One is feminine as hell, but she could beat my ass, except she would never fight. The other is Japanese in Japan, she would end your husband if he messed with her. We always wanted to see the former fight, but she refuses any time somebody messes with her… well, no point in going down this path/talk with you. You are adamant about the other being the one to control themselves although bullies only attack the ones they know won’t put up a fight. I need to go to eat.

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