By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer
TORRANCE — Mitsuwa Marketplace officially opened its store at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance on Feb. 28 with several dignitaries in attendance.
The popular Japanese supermarket was previously located on Western and Carson in Torrance. That site closed at the end of January and the new 40,000-square-foot site, formerly occupied by Marshall’s, had a soft opening in mid-February. The new address is 3525 W. Carson St.
Yoko Kifune of TJS Radio hosted the grand opening, which featured performances by Asano Taiko.
Junichi Kamei, executive managing director of Kamei Corporation, Mitsuwa’s parent company in Japan, noted that the corporation, headquartered in Sendai, started out as a petroleum products distributor in 1903 and has since diversified.
The corporation has “a strong connection with this area,” he said, having established itself in Torrance in 1974 at an Exxon gas station on Pacific Coast Highway and Hawthorne.
Kamei recalled visiting Del Amo for the first time in 1978 as a high school student and finding it “breath-taking.” He added, “Having our company open a new store in that same mall is like having my dream come true.”
After graduating from university, he spent some time studying in California and Yaohan, as Mitsuwa was then known, “was a real lifeline for me.”
Opening Mitsuwa’s flagship store at Del Amo is “a small step for Kamei Corporation but a big step toward greater understanding between America and Japan,” Kamei concluded.
A proclamation from the City of Torrance was presented by City Councilmembers Mike Griffiths, Geoff Rizzo and George Chen.
In addition to bringing revenue to Torrance, Rizzo said, Mitsuwa contributes to the Torrance community by creating “a more colorful and enriching life” and showing that “we live and do business in a global world.”
Donna Duperron, president and CEO of the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce, which represents 852 businesses, also welcomed Mitsuwa to Del Amo, as did Cody Bridges, field representative for Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi.
Vice Consul Kota Kimura, speaking for the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, said that the Torrance branch of Mitsuwa has held “a lot of events promoting different areas of Japan,” and that he hopes the new branch will continue this tradition.
Takeshi Izuma, president and CEO of Mitsuwa Corporation, gave thanks to customers “for the past 30 years at the previous site” and promised “the same quality of service here … the spirit of ‘customers always come first.’”
In addition to the supermarket, he said, “14 restaurants and other specialty stores will showcase Japanese food and culture to a broader audience.”
Founded in 1998, Mitsuwa runs 11 stores nationwide and employs more than 700 people, including more than 100 at the Torrance store.
Representatives of a number of companies and organizations took part in both a ribbon-cutting and a kagami-biraki ceremony with sake barrels provided by Ozeki Sake USA, Takara Sake USA, and Yaegaki Corp. USA.
Shoppers who had been lined up for hours were let into the store, with the first 100 receiving $10 gift certificates. A Kinokuniya branch and most of the food court restaurants were also open for business.
Above: Shoppers, who were let into the store after the opening ceremony, looked for bargains.
Left: Yakult Man, mascot for the probiotic drink, greeted shoppers near the case containing his product.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo