BY MIRIAM LANDRU – Hawaii favorite Shirokiya will be undergoing major revamping in preparation for its 350th anniversary.

Shirokiya was founded in August 1662 in Nihombashidori, Edo, which is now Tokyo. It is Japan’s oldest department store, however the last and only location is in our own Ala Moana Center.

Shirokiya’s Ala Moana location opened on October 29, 1959- two months after Hawaii became the 50th state. “The local people here in Hawaii really love Shirokiya, they help it to stay afloat and keep going. Shirokiya is very loved by the locals,” said Shirokiya President, Toshiyuki Okumura.

The first phase of renovations, Shirokiya YATAIMURA, opened to the public Monday, June 20. The establishment has 21 permanent yatai, meaning “shop stands” featuring meat and seafood dishes, tempura, udon, and handmade tofu, among other delicious and traditional Japanese foods.

“The seafood stuffed tomatoes are my favorite,” said Okumura.

The second phase of renovations will be focused on the Japanese gift section. New sections of Shirokiya will be devoted to Japanese confections, Japanese dolls, and traditional goods and wares.

The final stage of renovations will be centered on Shirokiya’s basement, which is now a storage facility. It will house Japanese artifacts and other precious items from around the globe when renovations are complete. Among the myriad of choices for shopping and dining Ala Moana Center has to offer, it will have now have it’s own art museum!

The whole project which should be completed by Spring 2012, is estimated to cost approximately $20 million.

Year after year locals and tourists flock to Shirokiya to experience traditional Japanese foods and culture. “Everything is not only cooked well, but the YATAIMURA looks great. Presentation is so important to the Japanese,” asserted Lina Langi, FM 100 morning show personality.

Surely the expected renovations will make this Hawaii establishment even more “ono”.

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