WORKING TOGETHER MAKES THE WORK WORTHWHILE
In 1928, Fujimatsu and Sadako Moriguchi, natives of Yawatahama, Japan began selling homemade fishcakes and other Japanese staples from the back of Fujimatsu’s truck in Tacoma, Washington. Fujimatsu named his business Uwajima-ya, after the town of Uwajima, Japan where he learned his trade. “Ya” means “store” in Japanese.
Today, over 90 years later, “Uwajimaya” is still family-owned, and Fujimatsu and Sadako’s granddaughter, Denise Moriguchi, serves as the CEO, following the legacy set by her father, Tomio Moriguchi and her aunt, Tomoko Moriguchi-Matsuno. Several members of the Moriguchi family (the 3rd generation) work together to lead and operate this successful multi-faceted business.
Uwajimaya Village is a vibrant marketplace that includes Uwajimaya Asian Food and Gift Market, several specialty bistros and retail shops, a food court, a bank and Kinokuniya, a beloved Japanese bookstore. Upstairs there are 176 apartments with over 300 residents, making Uwajimaya Village a community cornerstone of Seattle’s Chinatown/International District.
The team of Blanton Turner has been involved with Uwajimaya Village since it opened in 2000. In fact, Barry Blanton was the first resident to live upstairs. While the apartments were eventually sold to Equity Residential, Blanton Turner continues to manage the commercial portion of the property for the Moriguchi family.
Managing this property requires creativity and innovation. It’s a dimensional assignment that requires high-touch communication and coordination given the dual ownership structure with the housing on top, the multiple tenants and high-volume grocery store on the main level, and the subterranean parking operation that serves both.
In 2020 Uwajimaya has gone through a major remodel, which was accomplished with minimal disruption. Our approach was to make the remodel feel communal, as we all recognized that we are in this together. Our team leaned on dedicated communication and coordination, so that everyone involved felt heard and understood.
Blanton Turner worked alongside the Moriguchi family to ensure that any changes fit within the Uwajimaya legacy, and we reached out to each proprietor to discuss what they themselves wanted as well as what the experience could look like as a whole. We absorbed the diverse needs of each business, from the bank to the cosmetics shop to the dozen dining venues.
Uwajimaya Village stands as one of the most successful Asian grocery and marketplace experiences in the Pacific Northwest.
WORKING TOGETHER MAKES THE WORK WORTHWHILE
For nearly a century, family-owned Uwajimaya Asian Food & Gift Market has been a cornerstone of Seattle’s International District, as welcoming to locals and visitors alike as the Maneki Neko.
Vibrant city life surrounds the neighborhood gem. At what is collectively known as Uwajimaya Village, you’ll also find several bistros, a handful of businesses, and the Washington outpost of Kinokuniya, a beloved Japanese bookstore chain.
Residents of the Uwajimaya Village Apartments live just above — in fact, the complex’s first-ever tenant was our own Barry Blanton — and eventually there came a need for a more harmonious relationship between residential and commercial.
This was no easy task. Blanton Turner’s creative team quickly realized that a traditional approach would simply not work. On top of an owner-occupied grocery store and a score of tenant-occupied eateries and retail spaces, there were outstanding considerations, such as parking oversight, food court management, and condominium ownership.
Our team leaned on dedicated communication and coordination, so that everyone involved felt heard and understood. We worked alongside the Moriguchi family to ensure that any changes fit within the Uwajimaya legacy, and we reached out to each proprietor to discuss what they themselves wanted as well as what the experience could look like as a whole. We absorbed the diverse needs of each business, from the bank to the cosmetics shop to the dozen dining venues.
The constant dialogue allowed us to completely renovate the interiors with minimal business disruption. The project felt communal, as everyone recognized that we were in this together. Uwajimaya Village now stands as one of the most successful Asian grocery and marketplace experiences in the Pacific Northwest.