By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor
A community closing celebration will be held on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. to honor Anzen Hardware and its longtime owner, Norihiko Takatani.
Anzen and Takatani were recognized in August by Nisei Week with the Frances Hashimoto Community Spirit Award. Anzen has been Takatani’s passion for more than 65 years. He started working at the general hardware store with Tsutomu Maehara when he was a student at Belmont High School.
Philip Hirose said that there will be no program, but it will be a chance for the community to thank Takatani and recognize him. Attendees are encouraged to dine at Suehiro either before or after the celebration.
“It will be a gathering of people, and a celebration of Nori and his contributions and his retirement,” Hirose said. “Often for Japanese-owned and businesses owned by older folks, they usually close with little to no notice. But because it is such a community store, I wanted the at-large community, not just Little Tokyo, to come by and share stories with one another.”
The store was founded in 1946 by Maehara on First Street, one block from its current location in Little Tokyo, and has been a destination to find Japanese knives, tools, seeds and other home goods.
While the store is closing on Saturday, it will reopen in a new location, next to the family’s restaurant, Azay, and will be sharing space with a flower shop. The store will be operated by Hirose and his mom, Jo Ann.
“I hope to organize some community meetings and conversations on what is it people enjoy about Anzen and what would they like to see in the future. Because we know it’s so important to the community and its future,” said Hirose.
In the meantime, the last day of operations will be this Saturday and people are encouraged to come and shop.
“The best way to support us is to help us clear the shelves,” Hirose.
Anzen Hardware is located at 301 E. First St. near Judge John Aiso Street. More information at www.anzenhardware.com.