Fugetsu-Do

Fugetsu-Do
March 1, 2018 admin

While many 17 year olds may be preoccupied with high school hierarchy or following the every move of famous-for-no-reason celebrities, one in particular has chosen to carry the weight of his family’s legacy and community on his back.

I had the pleasure of spending time with the Kito family, owners of Fugetsu-Do in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, for a history lesson and an unexpected peek into the future. Fugetsu-Do is a family owned Japanese confectionery that opened in 1903 and is the oldest Japanese-American business in the United States. Started by Seiichi Kito, which is now sailing on it’s 114th year, the little shop with bountiful character specializes in handmade mochi and manju.

Korey Kito, a senior at Schurr High School in Montebello, California, has taken it upon himself to carry on the tradition while also recognizing the importance he holds for the Japanese-American community. Most would assume he’s obligated for the simple fact that he was born into the craft however he quickly shut that notion down, “I’ve wanted to do this my entire life and keep Fugetsu-Do’s history, hopefully keep it open for another 100 years.”

Words his father Brian would be happy to hear, after all it was his late father, Roy, who was delighted when Brian chose the same path. As Brian states, “When Korey was born in 2000, we actually lived here in Little Tokyo. He came to our store everyday as an infant and so he’s shown skills set, he’s actually been able to make kuri manju which some people just cannot learn.”

I initially came to speak with Brian on the history and process of Fugetsu-Do, unbeknownst to me he had a 17 year old son that was ready, able and willing to take on the responsibility. After witnessing the solid foundation set by his great grandfather, I am pleased to say we are all in good hands, flour covered hands that is.

– Maki

 

高校内での人気度を気にしたり、意味もなく有名な有名人をフォローしたりするたくさんの17歳がいる中、唯一一人だけ家族の伝統とコミュニティーを守る決意した奴がいた。

私は嬉しくも、LAのリトル・トーキョーにある、代々続く風月堂の鬼頭家と時間を過す機会をいただいた。その際、歴史の話しを聞かせてもらったり、風月堂の未来を少し覗き込ませてもらったりした。風月堂は、1903年に創業オープンした家族で営んでいる和菓子屋だ。アメリカでは最も古い日系アメリカ人のビジネスと言われている。創業者は、現在三代目の祖父にあたる鬼頭精一さん。お店は今年で114年を迎えるそう。キャラクター豊富なこの小さなお店は手作りのお餅や万頭に特化している。

カリフォルニア州、モンテベロ市にあるシュア高校に通う17歳のコーリー・鬼頭は、この伝統の重みを噛み締めながら、そして、日系アメリカ人のコミュニティーの大切さも理解しながら重大な役割を背負う決意をした。これは、この家系に生まれてきた宿命で、仕方なく彼はこの道を選んだと思う人も少なくないだろう。しかし、そんな概念は即打ち消された。彼はこう言ったのだ、「幼い頃からずっとやりたかったことです、風月堂の歴史を守ることは。風月堂を守り、さらに100年を目指したいと思います」。

それは彼のお父さん、ブライアンが聞いて喜ぶ言葉だった。なぜならブライアンの父、ロイも同じように息子がこの道を選んだ時、心の底から喜んだからだ。ブラインは言った、「コーリーが2000年に生まれた時、私たちはリトル・トーキョーに住んでいました。赤ちゃんの頃から毎日お店に来ていたので、その間、彼の才能を私は垣間見ています。誰もができるわけではない栗万頭もなんなりと作れるんです」。

もともと私は風月堂の創業とその歴史の話しをブラインに聞きに訪れたのだが、そこではじめて17歳の息子がいること、そしてその息子が100年以上の歴史ある和菓子屋を継ぐことを知った。曽祖父の代から代々引き継がれてきたこの堅実な基盤ある和菓子屋を目の当たりにし、私は思った、「善意あるしっかりした後継の手に渡るんだな」と、それももちろん、小麦粉いっぱいに塗れた手にね。

– Maki

Suffer, then Master

Comments (7)

  1. Grace Inouye 1 year ago

    Outstanding!!

  2. Eddie Morioka 1 year ago

    My wife Marion recently passed away from cancer. Whenever we were in Little Tokyo we would always stop in to Fugetsudo to buy her favorite manju “pink and whites”.

  3. Irene M. 1 year ago

    Remarkable young man. Tons of praises to him.
    We need our bota mochi, Sakura & kuri manjus for the generations to come. As well the present 😋

  4. Janice 1 year ago

    Thank you Korey!

  5. hideki obayashi 12 months ago

    Thank you, Korey and Brian! Can you open one in Seattle?

  6. Jeanne Nozawa 12 months ago

    Korey…..we’re so happy that you will continue the Fugetsu-do……know your great grandfather is watching over you!! I know that Fugetsu-do sends some to Japanese grocery store here! Know your dad and mom are very proud of you, as are all the relatives!!! Thank you for carrying on the “Kito” tradition!!!
    Love to all…..Eddie and Jeanne
    J

  7. Laurel Nakamoto 7 months ago

    Dear Korey,
    Just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed “Korey’s Chocolate Mochi.” Of course, we love the traditional manju and just tried the chocolate to see. Met you at Higashi Obon this year (2018), and it was our pleasure.

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