Staff Interview Vol 5: Hiromoto

Kevin Hiromoto


He is the owner of Ebisuya Japanese Market in Medford, MA, he teaches high school students at the Japanese Language School of Greater Boston, and is responsible for the stage team.

“I was a musician in Japan, and I wanted to improve my skill as a drummer, so I came to Boston with the goal of learning from Alan Dawson, who lives in Lexington, MA. Even before I came to Boston, things were already looking difficult – I had written to Alan for 3 years for a response, and I was able to audition for him but I would only be able to see him for an hour each week, so I was unable to obtain a student visa. I wrote to Alan, and he responded saying that “although there is only an hour each week I can provide lessons, you will be practicing and studying 10+ hours everyday, which is equivalent to being a full time student”. I brought his response to the U.S. Embassy, and with luck, the official I met with knew of Alan and granted me a 6 month stay in the U.S.. During those 6 months, my wife decided to go to Harvard, and was able to get a student visa, so I was guaranteed another two years. I still can’t thank my wife enough. I realized that I needed to obtain permanent resident status in order to stay longer. I decided to become a sushi chef, as they are in demand. As my time as a sushi chef began to eat away at time for practicing the drums, I decided to open my own restaurant, train my staff and managers to be able to run my place so I could spend more time with the drums. A few years later, I got my green card, but by then I was having too much fun running my restaurant. My goal in life is to make people around me happy, and smile. It didn’t matter how I achieved that, but making people happy makes me happy and time flew and it’s been 20 years since then. I wanted to bring people happiness, so in an attempt to expand my business, I was scammed, and I lost all of my money, and I went into debt. This is when Kotobukiya (formerly located in Porter Square) closed down, and the owner suggested I open a new Japanese supermarket; and I opened Ebisuya in Medford, MA.”

“Business for me is a tool to bring people joy and happiness. I want to provide happiness. Supermarkets are a necessity for day to day life. Food is vital to human survival and by definition a supermarket is vital as well. I feel this is a huge responsibility. I often get requests from customers for specific items but I make it a point to take action before people ask and stock it in the store. It brings me great joy to hear “Oh! Ebisuya has this item I was only able to get from Japan!”. Things I cannot just order from a supplier, I do research and experiment in the store to bring to our customers. For example, I met a customer whose dream it was to eat ramen, but they had an allergy to eggs (ramen noodles usually contain eggs). To bring this person ramen noodles that don’t contain eggs, I went to Japan to study ramen making, and upon my return, I immediately went to work researching and experimenting with various proportions of ingredients. Right now, we’re working on making steamed buns, and dumplings in house. We also do DVD rentals, stock stationary and office supplies that can’t be found in the states to have available to our customers.”

“I want both our audience and our organizing members to be happy, and have fun. I’ve been part of the organizing committee for five years, and those five years have made me realize that Japan Festival Boston is where everyone can have fun, learn about Japanese food and culture. It has also become a catalyst in connecting people with Japanese Culture and community. I have a few booths with my shop, Ebisuya, which is run entirely by the students I teach at Japanese Language School of Greater Boston. Their positive energy and hard work is inspiring. This event has become a catalyst in bringing people together, bringing joy and fun, as well as a positive learning experience for everyone that’s involved. I’m responsible for the stage team, but our other members are planning the content we share, so I can only give advice in regards to compliance and regulations which is great, because it shows how the event has progressed. I want to make sure that we bring not only amazing content and performances to the stages, but I want to make sure that everyone involved in the stage is able to have fun and be comfortable being the keystone in the stage team, I strive to bring my experience as a musician to help the stage be successful. We’ll be having many discussions, simulations and rehearsals before the event to prevent mishaps. ”

“Japan Festival Boston has no meaning if everyone isn’t having fun. Are you having fun?”


Editor’s comment

As one of Kevin’s former students, Kevin is an incredibly inspiring mentor, and his knowledge in music, food service, and his generally positive attitude in wanting to make everyone he comes across happy is infectious. I can attest to his love of making people happy at Ebisuya (THE RAMEN THERE IS FANTASTIC) and as a teacher, he made it very clear that volunteering for a greater cause, volunteering to make people happy is the best way to volunteer. His desire to make people happy doesn’t just stop there. His love of food and cooking comes from the same desire to make people happy- as students, we would often gather at his house and he’d treat us to an amazing home cooked meal. His curry, omurice, and fried rice are to die for. It’s because of Kevin that I’ve learned to enjoy my time volunteering for Japan Festival, and how incredibly gratifying it is to teach and share knowledge with people. I’m pretty sure that if Kevin wasn’t my Japanese History teacher during my time at Japanese Language School, I would not be helping with Japan Festival, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. – Kei