Chinatown, San Francisco

Lanterns & Banners over Grant Avenue

Rem and I weren’t prepared to brave the crowds at the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco tonight (Saturday, 2/23) but we did enjoy a visit to Chinatown last weekend.  New Years celebrations were ongoing so we decided a walk around enjoying the sights, and some nice baked barbeque pork buns would be a great way to spend the afternoon.  I hope you enjoy our photos.

Mural of Chinese Lion Dancers.

Mural of Chinese Lions

A lantern-shaped streetlight with the Transamerica Pyramid in the background.

Transamerica Pyramid with Chinese Lantern

Colorful embroidered shoes.

Colorful embroidered shoes.

The sidewalks were crowded with people.  Plenty of tourists, like us, and lots of locals out shopping.

This gentleman is dapper in a navy suit with blue pinstripes, a leather vest and a beret.

Dapper man.

Walking around the bustling streets we saw produce stands piled with tangerines, oranges, and many different kinds of greens. Oranges are considered auspicious – the word for orange in Chinese sounds like “wealth”.

Oranges for sale

A window display of roasted ducks and chickens.

Glazed Duck

A large tray of steamed pork buns.

Steamed Pork Buns

Very fresh (still live) crab.

Crab Wagon

Roly poly piggy banks.

Street Stall Wares

Are these the opposite of dunce caps?

Wisdom Hat

Bay Area locals may have heard radio ads for The Walk Shop in Berkeley, home of footwear for people who walk.  Here is another Wok Shop.

the Wok Shop


Dragon details on several buildings.

Dragon Detail

Dragon II

We heard the loud, rapid popping of firecrackers several times and once, when it was particularly long and loud, we jogged to a corner and up around to an alley to see what was causing all the ruckus.

We were in time to see the very end of a long string of firecrackers, hanging down from a balcony, exploding noisily.


Afterwards, the sidewalk was littered with bits of red paper.

Confetti Remains of Firecracker

Walking down another street we saw several groups of young men, some with flags, others with drums and a few in traditional lion dance costumes.


Several lions were going to different businesses.

According to Wikipedia:

During the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guild and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of “cai ching” (採青), literally means “plucking the greens”, a quest by the ‘lion’ to pluck the auspicious green normally ‘vegetables’ like lettuce which in Chinese called ‘cái'(菜)that sound like ‘cái'(财)(fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a “Red Envelope” containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. The “lion” will dance and approach the “green” and “red evelope” like a curious cat, to “eat the green” and “spit” it out leave it in a nice arrangement, like an auspicious character but keep the “red envelope”. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the “red envelope”

Festive Flags

Lion Dancers I

Lion Dancer II

Across the street, an orange lion and a green lion were bringing good luck to restaurant.

Orange Lion

Orange & Green

As they leave, one of the group lights a small firecracker at the doorway of the business to scare away evil spirits.


Thanks for stopping by, I hope it has been a good visit!

Close Up Orange Lion


Filed under Life

6 responses to “Chinatown, San Francisco

  1. What a colorful weekend… I can just imagine the sounds…smells…and chatter…going on…great pics…Almost took me there…I wish!

    • Thanks, Marilyn – I was trying to capture the feel of the place – not far from home in distance, but really a world away in experience. And it really is more than the pictures. Many people smoking, so there cigarette smoke over every other smell. Thanks very much for your comments.

  2. Liz Freemantle

    I never knew those were called wisdom hats. I’d like to order 200! 🙂
    All these pictures are amazing and make me feel like I travelled. Love the “dapper gentleman” picture especially.

    • Hi, Liz – Good idea. I need a stack at work to hand out. And not just to students. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures. It is great to get out of the house and feel you are somewhere different and new.

  3. Dianne,
    GREAT post and pics. And hahahaha about wisdom caps at work…

  4. Pingback: 10 Fantastic Reasons Why San Francisco Must Be Added To Your Travel List! | Outdoors Obsession

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s