A little while ago I had the idea of doing a "Let's Explore" series where we visit a particular location in the Bay Area and spend a few hours there browsing shops, sampling food, etc. We've also been getting more anime/manga fans lately, and while I haven't figured out a location yet for a monthly anime showing, I did want to start up a Japanese animation and comics related event.
THUS, I propose that the inaugural Let's Explore event be at Strawberry Park Plaza on Saratoga Avenue! It's not quite like going to SF Japantown, but it's definitely less expensive to get to, and not nearly as crowded, either.
What's in Strawberry Park? We can visit the Kinokuniya bookstore, which has a bunch of manga in the original Japanese, several shelves of translated comics, art books, magazines and plenty of Japanese culture books as well. There's a relatively new Daiso, one of the bigger ones in our area, where you can buy a ton of stuff for $1.50 that you didn't realize you wanted till you got there. There's a few other stores of interest, too, including one I've forgotten the name of that sells Japanese appliances and video games.
For food there's sushi (one of my favorite sushi places actually, though it's on the pricey side), a couple of bakeries, a shabu shabu place, and ramen at a great hole in the wall restaurant. Then there's Mitsuwa, the grocery store where you can get your favorite Japanese snacks, and of course healthy stuff too. The Mitsuwa also has a ramen spot (I think it serves other types of food also) which is pretty highly rated on Yelp.