Fodor's Expert Review Buchanan Mall
The shops lining this open-air mall are geared more toward locals—travel agencies, electronics shops—but there are some fun Japanese-goods stores here, too. Start your exploration with some fabulous mochi (a soft, sweet Japanese rice confection ) at Benkyodo Company (1747 Buchanan St., 415/922–1244, www.benkyodocompany.com), a local legend who has been in business since 1906 and still feels like a time warp. It's easy to spend hours among the fabulous origami and craft papers at Paper Tree (1743 Buchanan St., 415/921–7100, paper-tree.com). After shop browsing, have a seat on the steps around local artist Ruth Asawa's twin origami-style fountains, which sit in the middle of the mall. Wrap up a visit with lunch at Hinodeya Ramen (1737 Buchanan St., 415/757–0552), serving lighter dashi (clear-broth) ramen, a rarity in the city.