Avery James Photography

Avery James Photography

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 2011 San Francisco vacation - Part 5 (Japantown)

Previous San Francisco vacation posts

Day 1: Sunday, April 10, 2011 (continued)
 
This is the last post of Day 1!  2 more days of blogging to go! :)  I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself for getting this far....I'm known to start projects and then get sidetracked a couple of days into it and then forget about it.....but so far I'm on track and really enjoying having all these posts and pictures laid out for my future memories.  And hopefully those out there in the internet-world can also get some fun ideas for things to do while visiting San Francisco at the same time!  If not, hopefully you're at least enjoying the photos. :)

Moving on - after we hit Chinatown, we hopped on a bus that took us back to the beginning of the street, and then walked back over to our hotel in hopes we might be able to check in....we were still had about an hour till check-in time, but sometimes you can get lucky.....unfortunately that wasn't this time.

So we sat in the lobby and I decided we'd just hang out there for an hour and relax from all the walking we had done already...so I picked up the concierge book and started looking through all the different things to do around San Francisco...lo and behold one of the first few pages was about Japantown's Cherry Blossom festival.

There's a few different days and events for the festival, but the street fair just happened to be this very day!  And we still had a couple of hours before it was over.  So even though we had just sat down and rested our exhausted feet, how could I resist checking out Japantown and its festival???  My mother is full Japanese and so I'm always interested in seeing and participating anything to do with the Japanese culture.  I'm 100% Americanized, as is the majority of my family, but I still love to learn about my culture. :)

So we got back up 5 minutes after sitting down to go catch the next bus heading to Japantown.  It was about a 15 minute bus ride (have I mentioned how AWESOME the public transportation system is there???  Sooo easy to catch a bus down there).
 
We were greeted by Japanese architecture, signs, and statues....and lots of people.  Not as many tourist looking people here though, more of a local vibe, probably because it's pretty far from all the typical tourist spots in town (as far as I could tell at least, but I could be completely off.....??).










We wandered around the booths sampling cold teas from different vendors that were there.  We watched a performance for a little bit of Japanese dancers next to that awesome looking building in the first pic up there.  Then we stopped in one of the stores that looked bustling with activity.  Pretty neat - it was basically one big store that had lots of different vendor booths set up in it...all small, handmade style booths.  Upstairs were a couple of clothing boutiques, one of which had some different, but extremely pretty outfits....pictures weren't allowed in there unfortunately, but it was called Baby, The Stars Shine Bright...check out their website and outfits....it's all in Japanese but they have stuff that looks straight out of that one Gwen Stefani music video...really cute, but I have no idea where you'd wear it to....??

We went up one more level in the store and there was an art gallery there...this was the sign on the door:



I was immediately intrigued because I'm half Japanese and half Irish/German....I've always heard those like us referred to as "Hapa"...never Hafu...but I definitely wanted to check it out.  It was basically a project that someone had done where they interviewed various Hafu people around the world to find out how their being half Japanese has affected their lives when it comes to culture and "fitting in".  It was all so interesting to read as I can relate somewhat, but none of the subjects were raised in the U.S. and so their experiences were still very different from mine.  Here in Southern California I pretty much just fit in for the most part.  I've never really felt like I belonged to any specific "group" though...in high school you had the "Asian crowd" and I didn't fit in with them...but I really didn't meld with any group, I had a best friend and we stuck to ourselves most of the time....either way, I'm proud of my culture and family, and I kinda like being different. :)
 



After checking out the gallery and signing the guest book, we headed back out to the street and walked the rest of the way down.  They had a band playing...



And they had this cute little Sanrio area set up where you could buy tickets and play little games and make different crafts all related to the Sanrio characters.  They were all really adorable things, but a bit too girlie for my 5 year old boy. :)



After checking everything out we headed back to the food area where I was trying to figure out what I wanted to try...I was debating between a teriyaki burger and fried mochi.  I saw the sign for fried mochi and was immediately excited, although I have never had it from a booth like this....based on the lady's description, it sounded just like what my grandmother used to make for me when I was a little girl.  It's basically fried mochi with a sweet soy sauce over it.



Caydan wasn't interested in a burger, so I decided to go with the mochi.  What I hadn't realized is that they sprinkled seaweed over it...common sense would have told me that's what the green specks were, but I kept thinking it was some sort of seasoning powder or something, lol.  I hate seaweed.....but oh well, too late now, and I wasn't about to waste my $5...so I ate them up.  Caydan tried it and loved them too which made me sooooo happy. :)  The seaweed taste wasn't too overpowering...and they tasted EXACTLY like what my grandmother used to make for me!  I was so excited!!  She made them a little differently (the sweet soy sauce was just soy sauce and sugar mixed together, and she would cook the mochi in the oven or microwave....I liked it the way the booth made it better though, it was softer while my grandmother's was crunchier on the outside), but it was such a nostalgic taste to me.  Such a great way to end my trip to Japantown.



After Japantown we jumped on the bus back to the hotel, finally checked in.  Re-energized for a bit.  Went down to the mall to get something for dinner but couldn't find anything I wanted.  Ended up at a Denny's behind the mall which I do NOT recommend....food wasn't great, way overpriced, service was horrible, area was a little creepy at night.  But I was hungry at that point and just wanted food.  Oh well.  Finished eating then headed back to the hotel.  Got Yahtzee from the front desk, played that with Caydan, watched tv, then went to sleep to get up early the next morning to head to the Golden Gate Park.

Great Day 1!  More to come!! :)

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Mochi? Score! Fried mochi? Never heard of it! It sounds (and looks) awesome!

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