109-year-old NE Portland grocery store closes

NE Portland Japanese grocery store, Hiroshi’s Anzen, closed Tuesday

Hiroshi’s Anzen, a Japanese grocery store in NE Portland, closed Tuesday after opening 109 years ago, Sept. 30, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Hiroshi’s Anzen, a Japanese grocery store in NE Portland, closed Tuesday after opening 109 years ago, Sept. 30, 2014. (KOIN 6)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Many Portlanders would say Hiroshi’s Anzen is a city institution and rightly so, considering the Northeast Portland Japanese grocery store opened 109 years ago.

Though the owner, Hiroshi  Matsushima, called it quits on Tuesday because he said he needs a break after six-decades of working there.

Customers were sad to learn the news and see it go.

“When a store is around this long, you never think it will go away,” said Matt Weier, who has shopped at Anzen for 15 years. “It’s one of those businesses in Portland that’s a cultural institution, and I’m sorry to see it go.”

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Matsushima’s grandfather opened Anzen in 1905 in what was a thriving Japantown at 311 NW Davis until World War II when the US Government ordered Hiroshi’s family and 120,000 other Japanese to internment camps.

Hiroshi went to a series of camps and remained at one in Crystal City, Texas, until 1946. Twenty-two years later, the family reopened the store.

“They had to feed the family somehow,” explained Matsushima.

But Japantown never did recover and remnants of it are on display at Oregon’s Nikkei Legacy Center along with some new artifacts that were at Anzen.

“I just want to rest,” said Matsushima, who grew up in the back of the store. “I can remember when I was 12-years-old carrying out packages.”

During retirement, the 75-year-old wants to fish, read and spend more time with his grandchildren. He donated any leftover food to five local churches.

His family never owned the store building, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what business moves in next.

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