111-Year-Old Mochi Ice Cream Shop in LA’s Little Tokyo Shuts Down

Little Tokyo’s revered mochi ice cream shop Mikawaya, located in Los Angeles, has closed permanently after more than a century. 

About the shop: Mikawaya, one of Little Tokyo’s oldest businesses located at 118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, was opened in 1910 by Ryuzaburo Hashimoto, according to their website

  • Hashimoto named the business after his hometown in the Mikawa province of Japan. 
  • Frances, Hashimoto’s youngest grand niece, took over the company in 1970 and owned the family business until she passed away from lung cancer at the age of 69 in 2012, reported 89.3 KPCC.
  • Frances and her husband Joel Friedman were credited as the creators of mochi ice cream. They came up with the idea to “cover round balls of ice cream with a thin layer of sweet, chewy rice flour.” 
  • “By being able to mix the American ice cream with mochi, it brought more awareness to the general public about one of the most important food traditions in Japan,” said Noriaki Ito, a friend of Hashimoto.

The shutdown: The Little Tokyo location closed on June 29, reported Eater Los Angeles.

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  • A Twitter user listed the storefront and saw a sign that read, “Effective 6/29/21 Mikawaya will be closed permanently,” referring to it as the “home of the first and most iconic mochi ice cream in the US.”
  • He also stated that he “thought it was going to survive the pandemic” after surviving the World War II incarceration. 
  • Several users tweeted about the memories they had at Mikawaya and expressed heartbreak about the closure. 
  • Out of the four storefronts opened by Frances, the Little Tokyo location was the last one standing. The mochi ice cream will continue to sell in retail stores as a rebranded product called My Mochi.

Featured Image via NextShark

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