San Francisco
San Francisco
Japantown (Nihonmachi) - Since the 1860's, a significant Japanese population has lived in San Francisco. The center of Japantown is the Peace Plaza, planted with flowering cherry trees. The focal point is the Peace Pagoda and fountain with eternal flame. Across the way, Buchanan Mall, a pedestrian street, is lined with small shops like a Japanese village. During the Cherry Blossom Festival (April) and on weekends, there are music and dance performances, martial arts presentations. In August, at the Nihonmachi Street Fair, kids can learn traditional arts and crafts, play games, sample Asian food, and watch performances of lion dancers and taiko drummers.
Japanese restaurants - Japantown is a wonderful place to come for lunch. There are plenty of restaurants with steaming noodles, gyoza (dumplings) and sushi. Don't worry what's on the menu - most restaurants have a display of plastic food. At Isobune Sushi, kids can watch the chain of sushi boats (floating in the water) go round and round.
Buy kites - Stop into Soko Hardware to buy Japanese style kites, decorated with traditional graphics. Best place to fly your kites is Marina Green or Crissy Field.
Lafayette Park - Lafayette Park is a big rectangular park, flanked by old houses. At the western end of the park is a playground with swings, slides, play structures and picnic tables.
Go south on Laguna St., toward Japantown, to see beautifully painted Victorian houses.
Haas Lilienthal House (2007 Franklin St.) - After the 1906 earthquake, fire destroyed many splendid Victorian houses. The Haas Lilienthal House is your chance for kids to see the interior of a 19th century house - parlour, formal dining room, kitchen, bedrooms - filled with period furnishings. There's a marvelous doll house and train set, used by the children in the house. The house tour lasts an hour and you can't touch anything in the house - not recommended if you have toddlers. The Haas Lilienthal House is open Wednesday 12:00 - 3:00, Sunday 11:00 - 4:00.

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