|Frances K. Hashimoto|
Mochi Ice Cream
Hashimoto to Receive Spring Jokun
Little Tokyo community leaders honored by Japanese government.
May 1 2012
Frances Kazuko Hashimoto (Poston 26-13-C) will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. She was born at the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona in 1943. After the war, the family returned to Little Tokyo, where Hashimoto spent much of her time both working and playing at the family business.
After graduating from USC in 1966, she worked as an elementary school teacher for four years. When her mother (Haru Hashimoto Poston block 26-13) got into a car accident, Hashimoto decided to enter the family business full-time, and she began learning in earnest the art of making Japanese confections. In 1970, she became the CEO of Mikawaya.
As a successful entrepreneur, Hashimoto has grown the company from a small neighborhood store into a large corporation with five retail branches. During this time, due to her great passion for the community that she had grown up in, she began her service in many local organizations and has served in many varying posts.
From 1994 to 2008, Hashimoto served as the president of Little Tokyo Business Association; she now serves as its chairperson. During her tenure The Little Tokyo Business Association was revitalized and continues proudly to serve the community. One of her numerous accomplishments is that she strengthened the ties between Little Tokyo and Minami Otsu Dori Shotengai in Nagoya by delegation exchanges, organizing fundraising for Nisei Week, arranging business seminars, and lobbying the city governments of both countries. She continues collaborating with many other Japanese American organizations, the City of Los Angeles, and non-Asian businesses; Hashimoto is constantly promoting the revitalization of Little Tokyo.
As the first female general chairperson of Nisei Week Japanese Festival in 1982, and again in 1990, Hashimoto reinvented the festival by introducing more entertainment and by highlighting the rich cultural traditions of Japan. The performances attracted more spectators and participants to the festival and gave them all an opportunity to discover the charms of Little Tokyo and Japanese culture.
As a result, more and more people started to come to Little Tokyo regularly to enjoy Japanese culture, even after the festival. In addition, she arranged for delegations from Nagoya, Los Angeles’ first sister city, to participate in the Nisei Week Festival and vice versa, promoting the cultural and economic exchange between the two cities.
Her company Mikawaya, has been offering traditional Japanese confectionaries to the communities in Southern California since 1910. Under Hashimoto’s leadership, Mikawaya has expanded its operations significantly. Now its signature product, “Mochi Ice Cream,” is sold in many Japanese restaurants and supermarkets all over the country, enabling many people to experience and appreciate the Japanese confectionary culture.