San Francisco Stories and Tips

Journal Entry IX - JapanTown and Fillmore Street

Japan Tower Photo, San Francisco, California

APRIL 15, 2002 6:11 a.m.

I was very tired indeed. We have been quite busy from a tourist perspective the last couple of days. I will continue where I left off on Friday.

I was hiking up the virtual mountains in Nob Hill and Russian Hill on the way up Jones Street. I was heading south.

When I met up with California Street (which is incidentially a great place to take pictures of the cable cars), I turned west to look at the Grace Cathedral. It is, by my account, a huge church. It was hard to fit it into a picture on the camera. I thought it may be the church where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were wed. We're not sure; I'll have to look it up later. Joltin' Joe and Norma Jean were actually married in city hall in San Francisco and posed for some famous photos in front of a church in North Beach. They weren't married in a church because Marilyn had already been divorced.)

From the cathedral, I took Leavenworth Street south. It was almost a sheer cliff to the next block. You could see the scrapes in the road where people going too fast in "low-rider" cars had rendezvous-ed with the asphalt of the street. I went down the street in a semi-controlled jog that bordered on a tumbling incident.

Leavenworth flattened out a bit as I met up with some places in the Theater District/Tenderloin. It was an interesting combination of the arts and the ghetto. I went past the birth home of the dancer Isadore Duncan.

I turned west on Geary to head into the direction of Japantown. The Theater District peetered out; the street was mostly non-descript. Mostly apartments and some commercial outfits were on the street. I went past a colorful sandwich place called "Tommy's Famous Turkey Joynt." I did not know who Tommy was, what made his turkey famous, and, most importantly, why he insisted on spelling "joint" with a "y". It was too early to sample or get answers to my questions.

Before long, I could see the austere, but interesting Japan Tower. I climbed some steps to get into a rather ugly concrete square. The only color in the square was a line of about ten half-blooming cherry trees in a line.

I went to Post Street, the main hub of Japantown. It is full of Japanese shops and restaurants. It was amusing to note that there is a Benihana of Tokyo chain here, a Denny's (with Japanese characters on the sign), and only one Italian restaurant.

I was shocked at how charmless Japantown was. I was here with my sister before, but I had forgotten how stark it was compared to the rest of colorful San Francisco.

I continued up Post, heading west, until I hit FIllmore, where I promptly turned south. Only two blocks away was the famous concert venue of the 60's and 70's, The Fillmore.

The only thing adorning the building was a sign that read "The Fillmore" and it had a number of acts that were coming tp play there soon flashing on it. (Siouxsie and the Banshees and Sammy Hagar; not at the same time though). I took pictures of the sign. Otherwise, there was nothing to see; there wasn't an entrance sign at the foyer, just a blank glass ticket window.

APRIL 15, 2002 8:38 p.m. PST

As the plane was taking off around 6:30 a.m., I was overcome by tiredness, so I closed this journal and drifted into a happy sleep. I have been awoken recently by the deep snores of the fat guy next to me. So here I am, back writing again.

The last thing I wrote was about "The Fillmore". Not much to see really.

From here I decided to head back north on Fillmore Street going through the nice neighborhoods of Upper Fillmore, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, and Marina. There were many great looking restaurants and antique shops along this route as well as nice homes and apartments.

The niceness ended when I hit a KFC/Taco Bell and a ratty-looking middle school near Chestnut Street in Marina. I continued on until Beach Street, which I took east through Fort Mason Park.

I made my way through Ghiradelli Square. It was here that I saw the huge "In and Out Burger" sign. I had a little time to spare and I knew Toni wanted to try an In and Out Burger, so I went into the fast food restaurant.

I was behind some Japanese teenagers who couldn't understand what an onion was and whether they wanted one on their burger or not. The girl at the register went into the kitchen area and brought out a slice of onion and then they understood. I was next.

I ordered two cheeseburgers, no lettuce, no "special sauce". I also got some fries. It took about ten minutes from order to receipt of food. I called Toni to say that I was going to be just a little later than our 11:00 a.m. meeting time. She went and picked up the tickets using the code I gave her over the phone.

I scurried out of "In and Out Burger", wishing that I had bought an "In and Out Burger" t-shirt. Next time maybe. . .

I practically ran with the fast food through Fisherman's Wharf along the Embarcadero, until I linked up with the "Blue and Gold" ferry departure at Pier 41 (across from the sea lions). Toni was sitting on the curb.

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