Aiko Kawaratani, owner of Rafu Bussan, Inc., Carol Tanita and Rigoberto Martinez make offerings at a ceremony for the opening of the new Rafu Bussan location in Little Tokyo’s Honda Plaza on Tuesday. (NAO NAKANISHI/Rafu Shimpo)
For the venerable Rafu Bussan, its new location in Little Tokyo’s Honda Plaza is the latest step in a 58-year journey to ensure that a part of the Japanese American community’s arts and traditions are preserved for this and future generations.
The Japanese import and china store is set to open on March 18. Approximately 30 friends and community representatives were on hand March 1 as the Rev. Alfred Tsuyuki of Los Angeles Konko Church offered Shinto blessings for the store, its owner, Aiko Kawaratani, and its staff.
The day was selected by Kawaratani because it is a taian (lucky day) according to the Japanese calendar. Words like “courage” and “tenacity” were mentioned as Tsuyuki conducted the purification rite at the store’s new address, 414 E. Second St.
He pointed out that the significance of Rafu Bussan, which has been selling Japanese art and gift items since 1958, lies in its expression of Japan’s 4,000-year spiritual, cultural tradition that connects all of the arts — tea ceremony, flower arranging, martial arts, and more — to each other.
Guests, including local leaders and former staff members, gather at the store’s new location in Honda Plaza. (NAO NAKANISHI/Rafu Shimpo)
Inside the store, guests signed a giant daruma given to Kawaratani by one their longtime importers.
“It means you endure under all hardships and you succeed,” Rafu Bussan manager Carol Tanita explained. “Mrs. Kawaratani has a love of Little Tokyo. It’s all about supporting to Little Tokyo community and giving people a reason to come back and shop.”
“Businesses like Rafu Bussan are the heart and soul of Little Tokyo,” remarked Ellen Endo, Little Tokyo Business Association president. “It’s good to have them back.”
A giant daruma symbolizes the determination to succeed despite hardships. (Photo by Ellen Endo)