A popular stop in Fresno’s Chinatown is Kogetsu-Do, a Japanese store with a long history on F Street.
Lynn Ikeda-Yada owns the shop, whose name means “moon lake,” and she’s the third generation to do so. His grandparents immigrated to Chinatown from Hiroshima, Japan.
There’s even an enlarged photo on the wall of his grandparents and uncle in the same space that Ikeda-Yada’s shop occupies today.
“My grandparents started it in 1915,” says Ikeda-Yada. “This photo was taken in 1920 and they had two sons: Roy, who is the little boy over there, and my father, Mas.”
Today, Ikeda-Yada runs Kogetsu-Do almost alone, with a little help from her daughter. She sells ice cream and gifts, but the star of the show is a display case full of sweets: traditional Japanese pastries called manju and mochi.
“These two are the whole beans, here is the smooth red bean, the mochi has rice flour on the outside,” says Ikeda-Yada, pointing to wooden shelves of pink, green, white and purple pastries, each wrapped individually in plastic wrap. . “This one is whole beans with soy powder on the outside called kinako. There’s cinnamon apple, peach, apricot, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry. Boysen.
They look like little sweet dumplings, but instead of bread or pasta, the sweet fillings are wrapped in a sticky rice-based batter. She also sells mochi ice cream.
Kogetsu-do is the only place between the Bay Area and Southern California to find authentic mochi.
Ikeda-Yada says the best part about making mochi is the reaction of her customers when they take that first bite. But ask her what her favorite flavor is, and she can’t find one.
“I don’t eat it,” Lynn said. “I guess because [when] you see it every day, you don’t feel like it.
But for reporting purposes, these reporters had to try a few. We choose a lima bean manju and a smooth red bean for snacking: Laura tries the lima bean and Kerry the smooth red bean.
We come to the consensus that the Japanese dessert is a sweet and delicious treat.
This shop survived the Depression, the Recession, and even Japanese internment during World War II. Ikeda-Yada says a Chinese family watched here while their parents and grandparents were sent to concentration camps in Arkansas.
But with all the changes in Fresno Chinatown, would she ever consider moving the business?
“Not really, because people know where I’m at, and that’s where it all started,” says Ikeda-Yada.
You can see why people come back. We also leave with a few boxes of mochi to share.