One of San Francisco’s most storied and beloved sweet shops is preparing to shut its doors permanently, closing a chapter in Japanese American history in the region.
Generations of Japanese American families have celebrated holidays, birthdays and Japantown shopping trips with manju and mochi from Benkyodo Company. The original shop was opened in 1906 by Suyeichi Okamura, marking one of the first Japanese businesses in the city. Business bustled until the family was forcibly sent to an internment camp during World War II, closing Benkyodo for the duration of the war. After the family returned to San Francisco, Benkyodo moved to Sutter and Buchanan, where they’ve occupied a modest, diner-like shop ever since.