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CanadaJapanese restaurant in Campbell River, B.C., closing after 39 years

09:05  20 may  2019
09:05  20 may  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Campbell River 's Koto Japanese Restaurant is shutting its doors after nearly 40 years in business. As one of the first Japanese restaurants in the city, Koto The owners of Koto Japanese Restaurant in an undated picture, Takeo Maeda (left) and Kazue Maeda (right). Takeo Maeda passed away three

The Japanese restaurant Koto, a Campbell River institution, closes its doors tonight after 39 years . Owner Kazue Maeda is shown in a photo taken today with her sons Kenji and Taigi (left and right, respectively). A photo enclosed in a fabric locket shows Kazue Maeda with her husband

Japanese restaurant in Campbell River, B.C., closing after 39 years Koto was one of the first Japanese restaurants in Campbell River. Kenji Maeda says the restaurant introduced many locals to sushi, and raw fish.

Campbell River's Koto Japanese Restaurant is shutting its doors after nearly 40 years in business.

As one of the first Japanese restaurants in the city, Koto gave many residents their first taste of sushi.

Kenji Maeda, son of owners Takeo and Kazue Maeda, remembers his father telling him about the struggle to get people to try raw fish.

Japanese restaurant in Campbell River, B.C., closing after 39 years © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

"Everyone eats raw fish now, but back then, [my father] created a 'Campbell River Roll,' which had raw salmon in it," Kenji told On the Island guest host Megan Thomas. "It was an introduction for many people to have raw fish in their diet."

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The restaurant has been open since 1980 but as Kenji's parents got older, it became more challenging to run it. His father Takeo passed away three years ago and with his mother now in her late 60s, the family decided it was time to close.

It is bittersweet for Kenji, who spent almost every waking moment in the restaurant — growing up and working there — but he appreciates the values he learned along the way.

Japanese restaurant in Campbell River, B.C., closing after 39 years © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

"I have a professional career and I really believe that everything I learned was from working at the restaurant; building a community with customers, knowing about quality, and just doing things ethically as I learned from my parents."

Now, as the restaurant is set to close at the end of the month, he is overwhelmed by the number of customers sharing their favourite memories.

"Every day ... people have been coming into the restaurant and sharing their stories about coming to the restaurant when they were kids and now they are bringing their own children," said Kenji. "To hear those stories is very important to us and that's definitely something we're going to miss."

With files from On the Island.

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