Traditional Japanese Restaurant ‘Aki’ in Vancouver was Closed ― End 48 Year’s History

Traditional Japanese Restaurant ‘Aki’ in Vancouver was Closed ― End 48 Year’s History

Takako mama at ‘Aki Restaurant’

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 A Japanese restaurant ‘Aki’ (745 Thurlow St.) at the center of downtown, Vancouver was closed on February 15th due to building demolition.

 The restaurant opened on Powell Street, the old Japanese town, in 1963, and moved to the center of downtown thirteen years ago. It is said that there are more than 200 Japanese restaurants in Vancouver now, but there were only four in B.C. at that time. Aki was the first Japanese restaurant in Vancouver managed by Japanese.

 The restaurant is run by a couple. ‘Takako mama’ looked back, ‘We battled inspectors of Health Canada. They gave us instructions to make sushi rice “hotter” because “Sushi” was not known very much among Canadians at that time.’

 A lot of Japanese gathered the restaurant which serves not only sushi but also all the Japanese dishes. Each trading company has their own rooms at that time. Representatives transferred without family came to eat dinner every day ‘as if the restaurant had been their home.’ Takako mama smiles, ‘I satisfied their request like “Bring hot-pot because we are working overtime.”’

 After local newspaper had an article about the restaurant forty years ago, local people as well as Japanese became regular customers, and they were busy due to reservation every day. One day, ‘I missed the reservation name Trudeau, and asked him to go home because of the full reservation. Later I was surprised to know he was Prime Minister of Canada, but he kindly came to eat several times.’ Having maintained traditional Japanese taste by ‘Aki’s recipe’ from that time resulted in acceptance by both Japanese and local people.

  They didn’t have an alcohol license to sell at the opening time, so they served sake in a teapot. When inspectors found that, the restaurant was suspended. She cherishes bitter memories at that time, ‘Other restaurants also served sake as well. When a customer says “teapot,” sake was served.’

 Takako mama has gotten along with thousands of customers for forty-eight years. Now ten percent of them is acquaintances or their families. She said, ‘I have a lot of memories. Thinking about a lot of regular customers, I’m very sad to close the restaurant due to the building demolition. However, I don’t have anyone who hands over the restaurant, so I decide to retire. To my joy, a lot of customers say they “need the restaurant.” If I found a good place to meet the requirement in downtown, I might open it again.’

 Takako mama repeated many times, ‘What I can do for staff who has worked together for more than forty years and regular customers is to show my appreciation. She also spent a lot of hard time, but she said without hesitation, ‘I’ve never regretted. Bad memories have gone at my age. I only remember a lot of good memories.’

 After her retirement, ‘I want to enjoy playing golf without much concern for time and have a trip to Japan. I’ll live a relaxed life.’ After their announcement, customers who regret their close line up at the restaurant every day. Best wishes to Takako mama couple and staff for a new start.

(Translated by Hiroko Shioda)