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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month Through Travel

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Now, in my 40s, I'm getting more into immersing myself in my Japanese Heritage, but I've also been learning more about other Asian cultures and have found a handful of favorite AAPI-owned businesses near my home that I frequent often. When we travel, I am always looking for women-, BIPOC-, and AAPI-owned restaurants and stores. 

On our very short visit to San Francisco, I knew I had to visit Japantown. It's one of only three Japantowns left in the United States.

On our very short visit to San Francisco, I knew I had to visit Japantown. We didn't get to a lot there, but there are only three Japantowns left in the United States and all of them are located in California. This one is just a few blocks and much of it is taken up by an indoor "mall" that is packed with bookstores, Japanese restaurants, cafes, gift shops, and some lovely artwork. There's a bridge that goes over the street that connects both parts of the building. It was very rainy, so I didn't get too many outside pictures.

The whole of Japantown is surrounded by street signs that have cute Japanese pop culture art, which is adorable and immediately lets you know where you are. 

The square is also very modern while also being traditional. I would love to go back when it's sunny and just hang out and absorb the peaceful feeling...and people watch, because who doesn't love that?

We met up with a friend to explore the area and also get tea across the street. I'm always down for a good afternoon tea. I also love how this umbrella backdrop really captured the feeling of the day.

The center is split between the east and west mall. The east mall covers two blocks and the west hall is one block on its own, much of which is taken up by a huge Daiso store (a Japanese import store with everything you could want, all at very low prices).

I really wanted to just restaurant-hop here, so a return trip is definitely necessary to do some research on that front.

Look at this amazing building inside the building! The art in this mall is phenomenal and it's funny to just see people sitting nearby drinking bubble tea and reading manga.

There isn't much to the Peace Plaza, but it's 100% there for the Peace Pagoda, which was given to the people of San Francisco by the people of Osaka, Japan (San Fracisco's sister city) in 1968 to signify the goodwill between the two. 

I'll be visiting two other Japantowns this year. The first, Little Tokyo, in Los Angeles, and the second in Vancouver, BC. I'll also be visiting Chinatown in both of those places as well, and the largest Asian night market outside of Asia in Richmond, BC.

If you want to immerse yourself in Asian history, you can visit museums, America's Chinatowns, and some of the best restaurants across the country. Follow me on Instagram to see my travels as they happen, with photos that I don't post on the blog (because I don't have enough room). In the meantime, I'll be delving into all the delicious foods and gifts of Japan at Uwajimaya (an Asian grocery store in the Pacific Northwest) around the corner from our house.

Tell me about your favorite AAPI-owned businesses or Asian areas of cities from your travels or your hometown...

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