Community to give Japantown landmark impromptu send-off

Community leaders and well-wishers will gather at Uoki K. Sakai Co. from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon to give the 105-year-old grocery story an impromptu send-off, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

The Japantown fixture, at 1656 Post St., will close for good Saturday evening, according to a sign posted in the store’s window earlier this month. While Sakai family members declined to speak to reporters, employees said the third-generation owner wanted to retire, and his children were not interested in taking over the store.

“It’s sad,” said Mirkarimi, whose district includes Japantown and the Western Addition. “Several generations have grown up with this store.”

Mirkarimi said that the store’s closure did not bode well for the neighborhood, one of only three remaining Japantowns in the United States.

“Japantown is going to continue to struggle to keep its identity and remain alive unless The City comes forward with a coherent plan to sustain it,” Mirkarimi said.

Mirkarimi also noted the coincidental timing of a court decision that will allow the state to close San Francisco’s Redevelopment Agency, which oversaw Japantown until 2009.

Mirkarimi said the neighborhood, along with the nearby Western Addition, is still coping with the aftermath of redevelopment, which he characterized as “45 years of missteps that helped accelerate decline.”

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

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