Founder of sushi kiosk chain commended with Japan’s Agriculture Minister Award

Agriculture Minister Award Ishii Ryuji CG Ihara

Mr. Ryuji Ishii, left, pioneer of sushi kiosk chain inside supermarket stores, is given Japan’s Agriculture Minister Award by Consul General Junichi Ihara of Los Angeles. (Cultural News Photo)

Cultural News, 2010 August Issue

The Consul General of Japan, Junichi Ihara, held a Conferment Ceremony of the Minister of Agriculture Award to Mr. Ryuji Ishii, Founder and President of AFC Corporation, a sushi kiosk chain installed inside supermarket stores, at the Official Residence of Consul General in Los Angeles on July 30.

Shizuoka-born Mr. Ishii is a pioneer who started a take-home sushi business based on demonstrations and face-to-face kiosk-type facilities inside American supermarket stores, universities, military bases, and amusement parks so that people could enjoy Japanese sushi in a more casual and familiar way.

AFC’ sushi kiosks are located at renowned universities such as Harvard University, Princeton University, and Cornell University.

Until then, sushi in the USA had only been available at specialized sushi bars or Japanese restaurants.

At present, Rancho Dominguez-based Advanced Fresh Concepts Franchise Corporation (AFC Corporation) is developing the world’s largest sushi restaurant chain in number of location, comprising 2,800 locations, mostly in the United States and Canada.

In 2004, Mr. Ishii also published a specialist book about sushi entitled Elements of Sushi. He holds seminars on sushi culture for the general public throughout the U.S., drawing on the contents of his book as teaching materials.

In all these ways he has been making a major contribution to the popularization of sushi culture in the U.S.

The Agriculture Minister’s Award for Overseas Promotion of Japanese Food is awarded to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the introduction and spread of Japanese cuisine, Japanese food and other Japanese agricultural and fishery products overseas.

Its purpose is to further expand exports of Japanese agricultural, fishery and food products. Both foreign nationals and Japanese nationals residing overseas are eligible.

2010 Minister’s Award marks the fifth year of this commendation. In the jurisdiction of Los Angeles Consulate, Mr. Nobu Matsuhisa, Mr. Noritoshi Kanai, and Mr. Yasuo Kumoda were awarded this commendation in previous years.

In the Conferment Ceremony, over 50 guests came from Japanese food industry not only from Southern California but also from Japan.

Mr. Kenichi Saito, President of Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc. of San Francisco, gave congratulatory speech, and Mr. Toshihiro Iguchi, President of Marui, Inc., a wasabi maker in Nagano prefecture, proposed a toast to Mr. Ishii.