Customers reflect on Ishiharaya as business will close after 101 years in service

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Ishiharaya, known for its plantation tea cookies, is closing its doors for good on Nov. 13. Longtime customers say it’s an end of an era, but the memories will last forever.

“It’s culture, it’s something that we’re going to miss,” said Rusty Radona from Aiea.

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“I’ve been here everyday stocking up on the last bit,” said Gail Fukumoto, a longtime customer.

There will be limited products available at places Ishiharaya distributes to through the end of the year. Meanwhile, there’s only two and a half weeks left of the retail location in Waipahu, and customers aren’t waiting till the last minute to get their hands on these iconic snacks.

“Today I got the assorted, and they limited me for the one bag of poi and I got a bag,” said Fukumoto.

“Ginger is going to be one of the best ones, right, and the senbei, the sesame, and the other ones that they have, and they have the poi too which is awesome,” said Radona.

The business hasn’t said why it’s closing, but Retail Merchants of Hawaii says the COVID pandemic has brought on many unexpected challenges.

“With them closing, it kind of makes you think, where am I going to go?” said Tina Yamaki, Retail Merchants of Hawaii president. “Where am I going to buy these things? And it’s sad because we all grew up with it. It was always that was the one thing that a lot of people went to bring back whether it was for friends on the mainland or omiyage to the neighbor islands. That’s the sad part when you lose these nostalgic kind of places to go.”

Longtime customers are thankful for all the years of service.

“I wish them the best,” said Radona.

“Thank you for all of your hard work for the community,” said Fukumoto.

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The last day for business is Nov. 13. Ishiharaya already has limits on their popular senbei cookies and other items.

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