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  • Writer's pictureMiyuki Yoshikami

Who introduced sushi to America?

Chihoko Nakashima, my koto teacher, introduced sushi at Kawafuku, an upscale Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, owned jointly with her husband, Tokijiro.

In the early 1960s, Mr. Nakatoshi Kanai of Mutual Trading Company approached them to open a sushi bar. Tokijiro was reluctant, concerned about keeping fish fresh but Chihoko said, “Why not? It will be wonderful.” She is credited for boldly introducing sushi when the thought of raw fish was unappealing to most Americans.

Today Kawafuku is listed as one of the 13 restaurants that changed Los Angeles’ cuisine forever ( (see gallery).

Mrs. Nakashima may not have known how one day sushi would change all of America's

palate. Walk through any deli section of any supermarket today and invariably, you will see sushi being sold. Here is a photo taken at Wegman’s in Washington, DC.

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