CAMPBELL RIVER, BC – A local Japanese restaurant will be closing its doors after 39 years.

Campbell River’s Koto Japanese Restaurant is one of the first restaurants in the city that served sushi, and residents started pouring in with memories after the announcement was released two days ago.

In a social media post, one of the owners’ sons, Kenji Maeda, announced the restaurant’s closure.

His parents Takeo and Kazue Maeda first opened Koto in 1980.

“The restaurant’s been around for longer than I’ve been alive. Both me and my brother live in Vancouver now and over the years, we’ve continued to come here over the weekends as much as possible to help support the family business,” Maeda said.

He said that while it was a lot of work to make the trip from Vancouver to Campbell River so often, it was something that he and his brother Taigi got used to over time. Both brothers have full-fledged careers on the mainland and try to help whenever they’re able.

“I’m in my 30s and I’m thinking one day, I’ll get those two days back but I also know that there’s going to be a void in my heart.”

“(My parents) moved here because they said Campbell River smells like Okinawa… that’s what drew them here, and they wanted to start a restaurant to introduce our culture and our food to a new community.”

He said the reason for the closure was simply age. His father passed away a few years ago, which left his mother as the main business runner. He said given her age and the limited capacity he and his brother are able to help, the family felt it was the right time to bow out gracefully.

As for what comes next, he said it’s too early to tell, especially with how busy things are with wrapping up at the restaurant.

“We’ll take life as it is and make decisions after that. However, my mom is going to be in Campbell River for the foreseeable future, and we’ll be back to (visit her). We’re excited to visit the rest of Campbell River more often.”

Koto Japanese Restaurant will remain open until May 25th. Customers are asked to make reservations at 250-286-1422, as there is limited seating capacity.