History of Japanese Restaurant Association of America

The Japanese Restaurant Association of America was established in California on August 24, 1999 as a non-profit organization under the name Japanese Restaurant Association of Southern California.

Roots of the organization date back to 1997 when many establishments throughout Little Tokyo and the greater Los Angeles area faced questions and problems with fully understanding the various laws and regulations of regarding Immigration, Labor Board, Alcoholic Beverage Control, and Los Angeles County of Public Health. During this time, many members of the Little Tokyo community including Little Tokyo Business Association (LTBA), Japanese wholesale companies, Japanese hotels (such as Miyako Hotel and The New Otani Hotel), and Japan Food Manufacturers’ Association (Hichimikai), helped to provide a network of support to tackle the issues pertaining to the food and beverage industry. Mr. Teruo Imaizumi and Mr. David Kudo worked with these organizations to establish JRA, and became its first Chairman and Executive Director, respectively.

Since its inauguration, JRA has grown and added specialized committees to educate its members on advancement of culinary techniques, restaurant management, and food safety management, along with providing the resources of appointed lawyers, accountants, and healthcare providers to assist its members when questions or problems arise.

Furthermore, the Japanese Restaurant Association has received the support of and nurtured strong relationships with the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and various non-profit organizations such as the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California, Japan Business Association, Japanese Food Culture Association, Nisei Week Foundation, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, and the LA Nebuta Bayashi.

In 2006, the late Mr. Isao Hatano, who held the position as an instructor for The Association for the Advancement of the Japanese Culinary Art, took on the role as JRA’s president and helped to broaden the knowledge of culinary techniques among the JRA members. Later in 2012, JRA held a traditional Japanese knife ceremony (Hochoshiki) for the first time in Southern California and successfully showcased Japanese traditions through the art of Japanese cuisine.

At the annual JRA Food Festival, nearly 1200 guests, most of whom are non-Japanese, witness the Bluefin tuna filleting demonstration as they enjoy the tastes of Japan through items like nigiri sushi, ramen, soba, tempura, Japanese sake, and Japanese beer, which is something unimaginable 18 years ago when JRA was first founded.

Currently there are approximately 25,000 Japanese restaurants in the U.S. and growing.  We hope to continue to provide these restaurants with guidance that is relevant to the current regulations while also educating the American audience through Japanese cuisine.



Japanese food has become a phenomenon, setting the standard for culinary and hospitality innovation worldwide. The Japanese Restaurant Association of America (JRA) is to be maintained by JRA members themselves. JRA is where people unite and face their challenge together.


The mission of JRA is to represent, educate, and promote the Japanese food/beverage related industry in the United States. JRA helps enhance the efficient and economic progress of its members.

Honorary Chairman Chiba, Akira Consulate General of Japan
President Yuhara, Akira Ise-Shima Restaurant / Miyako Hybrid Hotel
Assistant President Toyoshima, Toshiaki Sushi Gen
  Uechi, Katsuya Sushi Katsu-ya, US District Manager of The Association for the Advancement of the Japanese Culinary Art
Sr. Vice President Kugita, Shinji Sushi Katsu-ya
  Masuda, Kentaro Kagura
Vice President Kohyama, Takaaki Daikokuya
  Hagiwara, Shoichi Katsu-ya
  Toyoshima, Jason Sushi Gen
  Uechi, Kentaro Sushi Katsu-ya
Director Kagaya, Masato Kagaya Restaurant
  Suzuki, Kenji Suehiro Café
  Motoyama, Masaharu Oomasa Restaurant
District Manager Kikuchi, Yoshimitsu Senfuku (San Pedro Area)
  Shingaki Tetsuro Ninja (Pasadena/Covina Area)
  Shima, Hiroshi Sushi Roku (Hollywood)
  Shiota, Tetsu Anime Jungle (Little Tokyo Area)
Advisor Matsuki, Yasuo Restaurant Koto
  Sakai, Mayumi MS Research, Inc.
  Tashiro, Yoshinori Tashiro Restaurant
Advisory Board Yamazaki, Jeff Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern CA
  Miyake, Kenny Los Angeles Fish Co.
  Yamamoto, Kosei Mutual Trading Co., Inc.
  Hanatani, Katsumi Maruhana USA
  Kaku, Shoichi Wismettac Asian Foods
  Kino, Atsushi Ocean Group, Inc.
  Kudo, David All Japan News, Inc./Master Sake Sommelier
  Kusayanagi, Joni International Marine Products, Inc.
  Shinozaki, Minoru Hichimikai/Popla International
  Muranaka, Akio Cosmos Grace, Inc.
  Ota, Shoso JFC International
  Onimura, Shigeto Onimura Law Corporation
  Yoshimoto, Kenji  
Office Clerk Sugimoto, Kyoko  
Treasurer Takahashi, Edwin Kiyohara & Takahashi CPAs
Auditor Iden, Mika Iden Consulting Service

Japanese Restaurant Association of America

312 East First Street, Suite 241, Los Angeles, CA 90012

TEL (213) 687-4055 / FAX (213) 687-4110

Please click here to visit the Contact Us page for any inquiries.