The Shin Anime Shopper's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area

Shin. New; novel; modern.


Introduction Notes on web pages Mass Transit Tips Terminology
San Francisco      
  Japantown

Sunset District

Richmond District

Chinatown

Downtown

East Bay    

Berkeley

Emeryville

Oakland Richmond
Peninsula      
  Burlingame Palo Alto San Bruno San Mateo
South Bay      
 

Fremont

Milpitas

Morgan Hill

Mountain View

San Jose

Santa Clara

Sunnyvale


Introduction:
Many years ago Stephen Mah produced an excellent guide called "An Anime Shopper's Guide to the SF Bay Area" but over five years later, in 1998, as there had been no updates I felt it was time to create a totally new replacement on the web.
 
This page may be distributed freely as text as long as it remains unaltered and proper credit is given to the author and all contributors. Any text distribution should include the date it was copied from the web. I ask that people not mirror the document but link to it instead to prevent out of date pages from existing.
 
This page shall be considered the authoritative version of the guide.
 
All links to retailers in this guide shall be written out for easy use as printed text.
 
Omake, a little extra.
There are some stores that are not major places to check for anime or manga related goods but have interesting items and are worth looking at if you happen to be near them.
I also include places to eat in some areas.
 
Don't buy pirated goods. Pirated goods reduce fan access to quality goods by undercutting the market for licensed releases and reducing imports of legitimate goods. For information on how to spot pirated goods see the Pirate Anime FAQ
 
Notes on web pages:
Store web pages are always incomplete, keeping a web page up to date is labor intensive so much of what is in a store never makes it to a page.
Calling or emailing are good ways to find out if a store has that hard to get item you want, or better yet drop by and find what you never thought to ask for.


Mass Transit Tips:

Always have change and one dollar bills as bus drivers cannot give change.
 
BART tickets should be purchased for a round trip.
 
BART has a web page with schedules and if you have a PDA or iPod you can even download a quickplanner so you will have the schedules with you..
 
You need the ticket to exit BART so keep it with you at all times, when a ticket is fully used up the exit gate keeps it and lets you out, if it is your first time on BART you may want to add a nickel more to the ticket so you will have it as a souvenir when the rest of the fare is used up.
 
Transfers are free in SF and a quarter extra in the East Bay. You should always get a transfer from the driver when boarding a bus in SF and probably won't need one in the East Bay depending on where you are going and how long you plan to be there. In the East Bay my advice is don't get a transfer as it probably will expire before you are done shopping and the stores are all within walking distance of a BART station.
 
Transit information for the nine Bay Area counties is available at:
 
http://www.transitinfo.org/


SAN FRANCISCO

Quick tour of San Francisco:

If you don't have much time and wish to hit one area with alot of shops try Japan town.

The shops to focus on are:

SAN FRANCISCO JAPANTOWN:

Nihonmachi (Japan Town) is a major collection of shops in a small area which has long been popular with anime and manga fans.
 
Besides shops to buy anime and manga related items you will find food stores which may have candy boxes with series related toys inside, note that these toys will usually be for shows that are current in Japan.
 
Some shops may close for major holidays, including Japanese holidays. The biggest of such is New Year's when the entire mall closes. So is you plan to be in the area don't be surprised.
 
http://www.sfjapantown.org/

Getting there:

Location:
Western Addition
 
Major Cross Streets:
Geary and Fillmore
 
Parking:
Street parking is best to the north, one can also park in the strip mall lot on the south side of Geary off Fillmore and take the pedestrian bridge to the Kintetsu Building in Japantown, there is also a parking garage underneath the Japantown mall with entrances off of Geary and Post (one block north of Geary)
 
 

Mass Transit:
By way of BART:

Get off at Montgomery Street Station, use the Post Street exit.

You will be on Market Street, face the street and you will see a clock tower at the Bay end of the street to your left, if its on your right you took the wrong exit and need to cross market.

Incidentally you are standing near the Hobart Building which can be seen on the Japanese LD cover for the Blue Seed OVA series.

Walk up the street away from the clock tower to a bus stop for the 38 line. The bus stop is less than half a block if you have reached Geary you have walked too far and need to turn up Geary to the first stop. On weekdays and Saturdays there is a 38 L express bus which is much faster. Ride the bus to Japantown and start shopping. You may want to get off at Fillmore which places you at the Kinokuniya Building. There is an entrance on Post street one block north up Fillmore.

The Hobart Building
Local buses to Japantown from other parts of San Francisco include the 22 Fillmore and the 1 California which goes a few blocks north of the shopping area.
 

Kinokuniya Building (the Western wing of the mall)

 
Kinokuniya Bookstore (upper level)
Kinokuniya anime and manga store (lower level)
1581 Webster St
San Francisco, CA 94115
415-567-7625
415-567-4109 FAX
san_francisco@kinokuniya.com
 
The major manga, book and magazine stop in SF. The anime and manga section has it's own store on the floor below and can also be accessed through a stairway in the main store. Almost all of the lower level store is filled with manga in both Japanese and English. This is also where you will find Japanese anime related magazines and books. Calendars are available in season.
The English manga selection is the largest in the Central Bay Area and is a great place to find copies of titles that have been out for some time.
 
Japantown Collectibles (lower level)
1581 Webster St
San Francisco, CA 94115
415-563-2970
 
An interesting shop filled with model kits and figurines. I make this one of my stops each time I visit Japantown.

Kintetsu Building (the Middle wing of the mall, West of the Peace Pagoda)

After exiting the main (upper) Kinokuniya store you can cross the bridge, or take the elevator downstairs, exit the building go East on Post and enter near the Peace Pagoda.
 
JPNTOYS
1737 Post Street #318
San Francisco, CA 94115
(559) 299-6533
FAX (415) 441-4989
info@jpntoys.com
www.jpntoys.com
A great little shop with a veriety of good. Do not make the mistake of assuming what they have in the store is everything. Check out their web site for other items, you can order online and then pick it up at the San Francisco store.
 
Omake
Moritaya
1737 Post Street #325
Japan Center San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone:(415) 674-1345
Fax:(415) 674-1346
 
An accessory shop for women and girls that is worth looking into. Scattered among their normal fare are some anime related items. There are many character goods from Tezuka and Ghibli titles.
 
Omake (another)
nippon-ya
1737 Post Street #345
Japan Center San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone:(415) 346-0332
 
nippon-ya sells traditional sweets, I suspect the home office is in the Kyoto-Osaka area as many of the sweets they sell are traditional wagashi, and they also stock small Hanshin Tiger baseball team goods.
They also have traditional cheap sweets such as kuroame, in fact I'm sucking on one now, basically it is a hard candy made with black sugar.
 

Japan Video
1737 Post St.
SF, CA 94115
(415) 563-5220
 
Their anime selection is one of the largest in the country. You can find many hard to locate titles and if you have that bent (and are old enough) they have a selection of erotic anime.
 
Their shelving is a little erratic so if you don't see what you want ask.
 
In recent years they have greatly expanded their selection of domestically released videos for sale and added books, manga, toys, t-shirts, posters etc.

Buchanan Mall and Post Street

This is the area across Post from the Peace Pagoda, a local landmark is Soko Hardware on the corner of Buchanan and Post.
 
New People
1746 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
http://www.newpeopleworld.com/
One building with a series of interesting shops and a gallery, the basement level is taken up by the Viz Cinema a high quality small theater that usually has Japanese works on the bill.
 
JBC Video
1748 Buchanan St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
A small video operation with a variety of items for rent in Japanese only, they have many harder to find TV shows.
 
Peoples Video
1740 Buchanan St. (2nd floor)
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 292-5894
FAX (415) 292-5895
Mostly rental and mostly stuff in Japanese the staff are helpful and occasionally there is a box of free posters you can dig through.
 
Omake
Mifune Don
After all that shopping you are probably hungry. Walk East of the plaza with the Peace Pagoda into the East wing of the mall area. In the middle of the lobby is a staircase, go upstairs and near the top you will find Mifune a great small noodle place, I recommend the yakisoba.
[Not to be confused with the larger Mifune in the restaurant mall.]

OTHER PARTS OF SAN FRANCISCO:

SUNSET DISTRICT

Le Video (rental)
1231 9th Ave. (Between Irving and Lincoln)
San Francisco, CA  94122  
http://www.levideo.com  
 
Parking:
Street parking.
 
Mass Transit:
By way of BART:
Get off at any station between Embarcadero and Civic Center.
Do not go up to the surface but look for Muni turnstiles. Pay your fare then go downstairs to the subway. Catch the N Judah outbound Muni Metro train. After awhile the train will run on the surface, then go through another tunnel and for some time on the surface again. Get off at 9th and walk towards Golden Gate Park, the store is on the left.
 
Lots of cult and hard to find movies for rent. Anime selection is pretty good
 
Thanks to Mark Lin for providing me with some information on this store.

RICHMOND DISTRICT (Including "New Chinatown")

Mass Transit:
The easiest way to get there from outside SF is to take BART to Montgomery Street Station and follow the directions given above for getting to Japantown, instead of getting off at Japantown stay on for some distance until you reach the numbered streets.
 
Parking:
Street parking.
 
Cards & Comics Central
5424 Geary (at 19th)
San Francisco, CA
Tel: (415) 668-3544.
http://www.candccentral.com/
 
Highly recommended!
They carry the biggest selection of Japanese figurines, toys and memorabilia I have seen anywhere.
They also have a very good selection of translated manga,.
 
Heroes Club
840 Clement Street (at 10th)
San Francisco, CA 94118-2219
http://www.artoftoy.com
Tel: (415) 387-4552
Fax: (415) 387-5229
 
Some Japanese injected models, garage kits, toys and model making supplies.
The stock constantly changes so every visit can bring you new temptations. I have found these guys helpful when looking for information on model building and painting techniques
 

CHINATOWN

The quality of what you find in Chinatown varies and is a mixture of pirated and legitimate goods so look carefully at what you are getting. I will only list stores that seem to be mainly legitimate products.
 
Sun Entertainment
725 Commercial Street
- and
716 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 986-0488
(415) 986-6787
FAX (415) 986-6797
 
Two locations one block apart, the store on Commercial Street is the larger of the two. They stock model kits, mostly Bandai but also some Korean models. They also have toys and video CDs.

DOWNTOWN

Downtown is mostly an Asian culture wasteland. If you want to find books on British Royalty or videos of the latest blockbuster film this is the place. If you are looking for something slightly unusual in entertainment you can pretty much forget it.
 
However there are a few places which stand out.
Notes on transit:
BART goes to near all of these locations.
Almost all major SF bus lines end up somewhere in the downtown area.
Parking downtown is not only hell it's expensive hell, take BART or the bus.
 
Cartoon Art Museum
A cultural landmark. The museum looks at cartoon art in all of its facets and places of origin. The exhibits are very interesting usually with a special exhibit and a room from the permanent collection on display. The admission is not expensive, less for students. The bookstore has an extensive collections of anime and manga related material and is accessible without paying an admission fee. The store also has a 10% discount on purchases on Wednesdays.
 
655 Mission St (near 3rd)
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 227-8666
http://www.cartoonart.org/
 
Jeffrey's Toys
An eclectic toy and comics shop. The comics side is weak on manga. A model and figure selection incliudes some anime and manga items as part of the ever changing stock. Jeffrey's has a good reputation for doing special orders from Previews, the Diamond Catalog.
 
Jeffrey's Toys, Inc.
685 Market (Near Third Street)
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 546-6551
 
Mass Transit
By way of BART:
Near the Montgomery Street BART station.
 


EAST BAY

BERKELEY:

Mass Transit:
By way of BART:
Get off at the Ashby station for Other Change of Hobbit or Downtown Berkeley station for the other locations in Berkeley.
 
By Bus from San Francisco.
Take the F bus from the Transbay Terminal, it goes to Adeline (for the Other Change of Hobbit) and onwards to downtown Berkeley, if you stay on it it loops around the campus and you can get off at Telegraph Avenue. There is also an FS bus that goes to downtown but not near Telegraph.

Downtown Berkeley

Parking:
Local lots and street parking exist, watch your meter time the city of Berkeley is very efficient and that includes the meter folks. I advise you use mass trasit for easier travel.
 
Mass Transit:
Besides BART the local busses that reach the downtown area include the 1, 7, 8, 9, 15, 18, 51, 64, 65, and F.
 
Half Price Books
Kress Building/Arts District
2036 Shattuck Ave. (Between University Ave and Addison)
Berkeley, CA 94704
VOICE: (510) 526-6080
http://www.halfpricebooks.com/037.html
 
Fantastic Comics
2026 Shattuck (Between University Ave and Addison)
Berkeley, CA 94704
VOICE: (510) 848-2988
http://fantasticcomics.net//
 
Mass Transit:
If exiting BART stay on the West side of Shattuck, head north (hills on your right are East) towards University Avenue for a little over one block..
If taking a bus get off at BART or University Avenue & Shattuck.
 
A small but good selection of translated manga.
 

Telegraph Avenue

Telegraph Avenue is Berkeley's most famous street, so famous that people often come just to see it and shop in the stores and buy crafts from the local artisans. Some find the people on Telegraph a little scary, in fact the odder looking folks are almost always tourists themselves doing some shopping and are quite harmless.
 
Omake
During the school year Cal-Animage Alpha, U. C. Berkeley's anime club has showings on Monday nights. Showing information can be found at
http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~animage/
You can shop on Telegraph, grab dinner and walk to Cal-Animage for anime, a great combination. If you forgot to check the web page for the schedule you can find their sign board on the bridge on campus at Sather Gate, just head down Telegraph to the campus and keep going you will see the gate, go through it and the sign boards will be on one side of the bridge.
 
Parking:
Parking is very difficult near Telegraph Ave. due to the huge number of students and staff at U. C. Berkeley. The easiest place to park is the city garage between Durant and Channing, other good locations are side streets south of Dwight, but watch your time, most days street parking is limited to two hours even in unmetered residential areas without a resident sticker for that area on your car.
If you plan to go on a Saturday check to see if that day a football game day, parking is far worse on those days with lots filling up fast. http://calbears.ocsn.com/sports/m-footbl/sched/cal-m-footbl-sched.html
 
Mass Transit:
By way of BART:
You can get there on foot from BART but a bus is easier. You need to be at the bus stop on Shattuck near the main, circular, entrance to BART, just take the escalator up to the street, turn left and walk to the next corner. Catch a 1, 7, 64, or 51 to Telegraph Avenue, ask the driver to announce Telegraph when the bus gets there.
The 7 and 51 will drop you at Durant and Telegraph, the 1 and 64 at Dwight and Telegraph.
 
Amoeba
2455 Telegraph (at Haste)
Berkeley, CA 94704
510-549-1125
http://www.amoebamusic.com/
 
A large second hand record store with a large selection of used video tapes, DVD and LDs. Their VHS and DVD sections have separate animation subsections. Do check the bargain bins as many good items end up there right away for some reason. They even have a small anime soundtrack section near the movie soundtracks. They also have a store in the Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco but as I avoid tourist traps I don't know if it has much in the way of anime.
 
Rasputin Music
2401 Telegraph Ave. (at Channing)
Berkeley, CA 94704
http://www.rasputinmusic.com/
 
Another great place to shop for second hand and new anime. Ignore the music, they have a large used anime DVD selection. Be sure you find the second hand section and not the new section. Also be aware that they simply price almost everything at $17.95 so this may not be such a good deal for titles like Phantom Quest Corps (SRP $15.00) or Blue Submarine (SRP $ 20.00) They also have stores in Pleasant Hill, San Lorenzo, Campbell and Newark but I don't know if they have much anime in those locations.
 
Omake
Eid's TV Electronics
2510 Durant Ave.
This is one of the few places in Berkeley that sells regionless players, and will beat the price anyone else has for the same model.

 


EMERYVILLE

Parking:
Street
 
Kimono My House
1455 64th Street (near Hollis)
Emeryville, CA 94508
Phone: 510-654-4627
orders@kimonomyhousetoys.com
http://www.kimonomyhousetoys.com/shop.cgi
 
Lots of very hard to find and just plain rare stuff.
Almost everything in the store is ordered directly from Japan or bought on trips the owners make to the anime homeland. A large portion of the stock consists of toys, many for older shows, that other stores just do not have.


OAKLAND

Dr. Comics & Mr. Games
4014 Piedmont Ave. (at 40th)
Oakland, CA 94611
VOICE: (510) 601-7800
 
They have a very good selection of manga, anime and back issues of anime magazines. They also have a mail order catalog.
 
Oakland Chinatown
Currently there is not too much in Oakland's Chinatown, but if you are in the downtown area you may want to wander through the shops because on occasion something interesting shows up.
Oakland Chinatown is growing rapidly and more shops open every year and even if you don't find any anime related stuff you want its worth shopping in this area as it is free of the tourist oriented junk shops one finds in SF.
BART 12th street is close to here and almost all of the south bound buses from Berkeley end up in this area.
Be aware that some goods you may see could be pirated, legitimate Japanese made goods can be found in some stores.


RICHMOND

The following stores are all in the Pacific East Mall just off highway 80 at 3288 Pierce Street has a few shops devoted to anime,
 
Mass Transit:
BART to the El Cerrito Plaza station or the 15, 43, 72, and 73 bus to Fairmount near San Pablo Avenue and walk West towards the bay, look for the signs for the mall as you near the freeway.
 
The following is edited information from Rob White [May 9, 2005] (thanks Rob) . Kingstone Books
This store is across the mall from the Ranch 99 Supermarket, and next to a vitamin store. The owners and workers here are friendly and helpful. They have the biggest collection of Chinese manga I have ever seen, and have many CDs (mostly Mando-pop, J-pop and some K-pop) and DVDs/VCDs. All legal even (as far as I can tell). There are some Anime videos but not many. There are also lots of Chinese magazines and books, and novelties and knickknacks.

Omake
This mall is a great place for Asiaphiles to visit. There are several Chinese restaurants, each with different specialties (one serves Macao style, another has Shanghai style, yet another serves Taiwan style, etc.), a Chinese bakery, and a hip Taiwan-style coffee shop. The other restaurants in the mall include a Vietnamese and a Thai, and there is a Japanese restaurant opening soon. The main store in the mall is the huge Ranch 99 Asian supermarket. Their fresh produce is excellent, and there is an in-store mini-restaurant as well (not in the count above). Other mall shops specialize in gifts/souvenirs, jewelry, tea, ginseng, vitamins, snacks, tobacco, and musical instruments, and there are also a beauty shop, a dentist's office, a wireless telephone service, a video game room (very cool -- about 50 PCs with huge monitors in a darkened room) and a video rental shop (movies but no anime section).


PENINSULA

BURLINGAME

Network Video
1215 Broadway
Burlingame, CA  94010  
 
Domestic and import playstation games for sale/rental, and anime rentals and merchandise
 
Thanks to Mark Lin for the information.

PALO ALTO

Fry's Electronics
340 Portage Ave.
(650) 496-6000
Anime videos
 
Thanks to Kenneth Ott for the information.
 

SAN BRUNO

Mikado Kids
Tanforan Shopping Mall, 2nd Floor
1150 El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA 94066
Phone:(650) 871-8766
Mikado was for over 30 years a major stop for fans in San Francisco's Japantown. In 2008 they moved to the present location. They have an excellent reputation for handling special orders from Japan.
 

SAN MATEO

Game Hunter
302 E 5th Ave
San Mateo, CA  94401  
 
Mostly a playstation game rental place also anime for sale.
 
Thanks to Mark Lin for the information, further thanks to Cindy Dianne Yeatts for updated information.
 


SOUTH BAY

FREMONT

 
Fry's Electronics
43800 Osgood Road
(510) 252-5300
880 south, take automall exit, keep going until you hit Osgood (a good mile
down; adjacent to I-680)
Anime videos
 
Thanks to Kenneth Ott for the information.

MILPITAS

Anime Video Games
81 South Main Street
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 586-8928
FAX (408) 586-8929
info@animevideogamesmilpitas.com
 
American, Japanese and Chinese: video games, systems, software, anime and soundtracks.
Conversion service for game machines so that they can play both U.S. and Japanese games.
 

MORGAN HILL

Anime 101 & Manga Too
313 Vineyard Town Center
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Tel: (408) 778-5285 or (866) 24ANIME
Fax: (408) 353-5700
http://www.anime-101.com
shop@anime-101.com
 
Character Goods, Figures, Pencil Boards, Manga (English & Japanese), drawing supplies, trading card games and much more. Various tournaments held on most weekend (check website for latest list).
 
MOUNTAIN VIEW
 
Lee's Comics
1020 N. Rengstorf Ave. Suite F
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 965-1800
11-8 every day
lee@lcomics.com
http://www.lcomics.com
 
An excellent selection of domestically released manga and anime
Posters
Toys
 
Mass Transit:
Accessible by Caltrain and San Mateo county transit.
 

SAN JOSE

The San Jose has two major anime areas Japantown and Yaohan plaza. If you have limited time just hit these two locations.
 
 
Anime V -
1375 Blossom Hill Road Suite 25
(at Blossom Hill, Meridian, and Kooser Roads)
San Jose, California 95118
Phone: (408) 264-7400
Email: animev@hotmail.com
 
http://www.e-anime.com/
 
Formerly of Berkeley, they will open the San Jose store in Late March 2009.
Anime V has a very large and varied selection of anime, imported books, Japanese anime magazines, posters, t-shirts, Music-CDs, models, plush toys, manga, translated manga in graphic novel format and many small items in one location.
 
A good portion of their stock is imported direct from Japan and at prices lower than most stores.
 
California Video (Major Cross Streets are Berryessa Rd and King Rd. Near the Berryessa Flea Market)
986 Lundy Ave
San Jose, CA 95133
(408) 251-1878
 
"They have a large collection of Japanese Animation Video Rental, as well as video games, Hong Kong and English movies on video and DVD" - Thanks to Linda Kuo for the information.
 
Farout Toys
161 Jackson Street Suite #2 (at E 4th Street)
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 279-3073
http://www.farouttoys.com/
 
In Japantown.
 
Models, action figures, posters, assorted other toy items. They also rent video games.
 
Fry's Electronics
550 E. Brokaw Road
(408) 487-1000
Anime videos
 
Thanks to Kenneth Ott for the information.
 
Kinokuniya Bookstores
675 Saratoga Ave
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 252-1300
(408)252-2687
san_jose@kinokuniya.com
http://www.kinokuniya.com
 
While smaller than the San Francisco branch the San Jose store stocks a larger selection of manga graphic novels in English and Japanese. The store also has a small selection of anime. They are an excellent source for Japanese books and magazines on anime, manga and related subjects.
 
Nikaku Animart
615 North 6th Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Tel: (408) 971-2822
Fax: (408) 971-0856
http://www.nikaku.com/
nikaku@nikaku.com
In Japantown.
 
One of the best known and best stocked anime stores in the country. Lots of all kinds of items.
To get a catalog via email, just send them an e-mail with the subject heading 'catalog' and one will come back to you as an automatic response.
 
 

SANTA CLARA

Anime Palace
2352 Walsh Ave.
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Office Hours:
Monday: Retail Closed
Tuesday to Sat 11:00 to 5:00
Sunday : 12:00 to 4:00 (Pacific Standard Time)
Phone: +1-408-988-8288
http://www.animepalace.com/
 
I have heard they have an excellent collection of figurines and other anime related material.
Thanks to Bruce Krueger, and Ann from BayAnime for this info.
 

SUNNYVALE

 
Fry's Electronics
1077 E. Arques Ave.
(408) 617-1300
Anime videos
 
Thanks to Kenneth Ott for the information.
 


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Created October 4, 1998 | Updated May 29, 2012