There are a few accepted theories on how long you should search for parking before settling for a garage. There's the single loop around the block, the zigzags through adjacent streets, the stalking of people exiting restaurants. What doesn't vary is the feeling of defeat you get when rolling toward the yellow gate and pushing the button for a ticket. This blow cannot be escaped, but it can be minimized. And no covered parking location softens it better than the Japan Center Garage, which clocks in at between $1 and $2.50 an hour, less than most city parking meters. The 24-hour max rate is $19. The structure sprawls out horizontally, not vertically, so no need to psyche yourself up for those door-scraping, three-point-turn-inducing, Advanced Driver's Ed-level spiral ramps common at lesser garages. While Japan Center Garage won't be there for all your San Francisco parking needs, it will be there waiting when your plans are taking you to Japantown, Pacific Heights, or Western Addition.