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Kotobukiya closing?

Mr Bigglesworth Apr 7, 2009 10:34 AM


Saw on another blog that Kotobukiya is closing. I was just there this weekend and didn't see any signs, but someone noticed one today. Can anyone confirm / deny if this is true?


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  1. galangatron RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 7, 2009 10:44 AM

    the sushi bar or the market?

    4 Replies
    1. re: galangatron
      Mr Bigglesworth RE: galangatron Apr 7, 2009 10:58 AM

      Pretty sure it's the market, which really bums me out! They sold a bunch of great products. This was the post (from NE Food)...

      Well, we have the good news about H-Mart, but today I was shocked
      to see a sign at Kotobukiya saying they were closing on May 10.
      How can that be? I really hope H-Mart fills the void, but I doubt
      it will for all the Japanese foods one can currently get at

      1. re: Mr Bigglesworth
        kobuta RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 7, 2009 02:23 PM

        I hope that's not true, as there is no other easily accessible market with as good a selection of Japanese food items. Their website doesn't have any notice. I'm hoping, if it's a real closing, that it's a temporary one?

        1. re: kobuta
          enhF94 RE: kobuta Apr 7, 2009 06:17 PM

          Man! What a disappointment. Anyone know any other options for similar goods; nearer is better?

          Otherwise I'm stocking up on mochi ice cream, lychee juice, pocky, and I'm clearing out their dish department.

        2. re: Mr Bigglesworth
          Kenji RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 8, 2009 07:39 AM

          This is tragic news. Kotobukiya is a really good market.

      2. voodoocheese RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 7, 2009 02:39 PM

        Just came from there- it's closing on May 10th... permanently. I am so, so, so sad!

        -- just noticed you posted the same thing. I'm still sad!

        1. fr1p RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 7, 2009 04:08 PM

          Yeah, it's true. May 10th. Thanks to Leslie University, which is kicking them out to make room for the bookstore.

          According to the women working there, the store will not be relocating, it's just shutting down. She said someone else was thinking of opening a Japanese market but wasn't sure when that would happen, or where.

          There goes my only reason for visiting Porter Square.

          Hey, anyone want to start a letter writing campaign to the University? We could send them bits of kelp, kimchi, or dried sardines bought from the market. Anyone in? I could write a form letter, and we could all do it.

          Seriously, are there any other good asian markets along the Red Line? NO. At least none I know of. This is sort of a foody-tragedy.

          7 Replies
          1. re: fr1p
            kobuta RE: fr1p Apr 7, 2009 04:42 PM

            Yeah, I took a trip after work and saw their sign too. This is terrible. H-Mart wouldn't even help since it's not accessible for anyone without a car. Boo to Lesley University.

            1. re: fr1p
              jajjguy RE: fr1p Apr 7, 2009 08:53 PM

              It's a step or two off the red line, but Reliable Market in Union Square is very good.

              1. re: jajjguy
                kobuta RE: jajjguy Apr 8, 2009 06:58 AM

                I live off of and work near the red line, and I can definitely say, not a step or two. Especially when taking what may be heavy groceries. I really would LOVE Reliable to be closer.

                1. re: kobuta
                  Bob Dobalina RE: kobuta Apr 8, 2009 07:33 AM

                  I hear there is space opening up in Porter Square if you are willing to sign a five year lease!

                2. re: jajjguy
                  mikhail RE: jajjguy Apr 8, 2009 07:39 AM

                  reliable is, indeed, very good. but they don't have a number of japanese products that kotobukiya has and the ones they do have are, sometimes, stale due to lower demand/turnover.

                  1. re: mikhail
                    qianning RE: mikhail May 14, 2009 06:59 AM

                    Exactly, it is an excellent Korean market....not Japanese, which is much harder to find...

                3. re: fr1p
                  mikhail RE: fr1p Apr 7, 2009 09:08 PM

                  if you start the campaign, i will join. kotobukiya is, in fact, the only good japanese market anywhere in the greater boston area. heck, i don't think there's another japanese market, good or otherwise, left in boston at all.

                4. a
                  another_adam RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 7, 2009 06:43 PM

                  Oh no!!!!! They're the only ones in town that make the particular style of fish cakes that they have! :(

                  And where will we buy tamaki gold and haiga now? (Somehow they seem to have them cheaper than anywhere-- the Lotte market on Mass Ave just tried to charge me $37 for a 15 lb bag of tamaki gold the other day! I was completely nonplussed, but gathered my wits and put it back and walked away slowly...) Kotobukiya might have been the last T-accessible source of tamaki. Super88 used to have it, but haven't seen it lately. Even non T-accessible tamaki rice is getting scarce, for that matter-- they used to have it at kam man, but didn't have it there recently, either. :( sigh

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: another_adam
                    fr1p RE: another_adam Apr 7, 2009 08:51 PM

                    Awful, isn't it? Seriously, my favorite asian market in the Boston metro area, and right on the Red Line!

                  2. fr1p RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 8, 2009 04:12 AM

                    Here's a news article about it:

                    1. galangatron RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 8, 2009 05:36 AM

                      that is sad news. they were such a reliable source for japanese groceries and snacks. hopefully the food court is safe

                      1. a
                        amatto RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 8, 2009 11:05 AM

                        I know Korean markets often have a lot of the items one can find in Japanese markets, but not everything.

                        When Yoshinoya closed I didn't mind too much because there was Kotobukiya..now with Kotobukiya closing...it is kind of upsetting. Porter Exchange was a nice little bustling shopping area. Darn Lesley!!!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: amatto
                          Bob Dobalina RE: amatto Apr 8, 2009 11:39 AM

                          Darn Lesley sure but also darn the Kotobukiya folks too. Sounds like they could not really commit to a long-term lease and were hoping that their original lease would keep being extended indefinitely...sounds like a little bit of an issue on both sides of a failure to communicate.

                          Also, isn't there vacant space in that building right now? The fact that the other merchants are not moving makes me wonder what is really up here.

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
                            another_adam RE: Bob Dobalina Apr 8, 2009 12:06 PM

                            Hmmm, the pronouns are ambiguous here-- the way I read it, it was Lesley that wouldn't commit, and Kotobukiya was tired of the constant uncertainty:

                            "Lesley spokesperson Bill Doncaster said the university would have signed another year lease with Kotobukiya, but they wanted five. 'We couldn’t make a five-year commitment,' he said. Lesley will now use the space to extend the school’s already cramped bookstore."

                            I really hope they do open again, and somewhere T accessible. The comments above are right on-- shlepping heavy stuff like bags of rice from Reliable by walking or bus to the T is a pain, and they don't have nearly the selection of Japanese items. (It's an awkward catch 22-- their selection of Korean stuff suffers because they have many Japanese items, but at the same time the selection of Japanese stuff is overall kind of weak) It's pretty sad that Boston has lost 3 Japanese markets in just a few years. :(

                        2. h
                          heWho RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 8, 2009 01:17 PM

                          Oh wow, what a sad day. I learned so much about quirky Japanese food at Kotobukiya.

                          Hopefully some entrepreneur will step up, see the need for a market, and jump at the opportunity.

                          1. steinpilz RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 8, 2009 01:38 PM

                            This is terrible news and I am also sad. Japanese markets are hard to find and Kotobukiya was great and convenient with that Japanese housewares store next door. I'll never find the special fish selection that they had, and that I got as a regular treat.

                            Quickly, start up that new market!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: steinpilz
                              steinpilz RE: steinpilz Apr 15, 2009 02:42 PM

                              All may not be lost, I talked with someone at Kotobukiya a few days ago and they said that the new store could open by the end of June. So I bought a stock of stuff to keep me going until then. It's too bad that they have to move as it's such a nice group of stores and they've been there such a long time.

                              1. re: steinpilz
                                poptart RE: steinpilz Apr 15, 2009 03:28 PM

                                They are moving to another location? Did they say where? That's great news (hoping it's near the T though!).
                                I agree, such a nice group of stores, I think it will be a big loss to the building, which appears to be getting gobbled up by Lesley U.

                                1. re: poptart
                                  kobuta RE: poptart Apr 15, 2009 07:53 PM

                                  A local Japanese acquaintance heard from one of the workers that one of the owners is indeed opening a store in Medford or Medford Sq. I don't know that area well, and doesn't sound like it will be accessible to me (sigh) so I didn't get more info.

                            2. davis_sq_pro RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 19, 2009 03:04 PM

                              Ugh, this is horrible news.

                              Someone else in this thread mentioned haiga rice, which I'm also a fan of and have been unable to find elsewhere in the area (I usually go for the Tamaki brand at Kotobukiya). Anyone have another source?

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                galangatron RE: davis_sq_pro Apr 20, 2009 07:23 AM

                                you could try the cherry mart on newbury street but it's very small and doesn't have nearly as much selection as kotobukiya

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                  another_adam RE: davis_sq_pro Apr 25, 2009 06:03 PM

                                  Mirim on Harvard has little bags of tamaki haiga-- it's pricy and petite quantities, but they do have it.

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                    kobuta RE: davis_sq_pro Apr 25, 2009 07:26 PM

                                    I saw bags of Tamaki (big ones) at Kam Man in Quincy. Didn't look at the price though.

                                    1. re: kobuta
                                      another_adam RE: kobuta Apr 25, 2009 07:31 PM

                                      The Tamaki gold (in silver bags) or the haiga (in brown bags)? I've seen Tamaki Gold there before, too, though the last time I went there to buy it, there was none to be found :( Good to know it was just a temporary situation.

                                      1. re: another_adam
                                        kobuta RE: another_adam Apr 25, 2009 08:25 PM

                                        I can't remember, since I was looking at several bags of rice and they're kind of blurring into one. I just remember they were at the bottom of the fruit shelves, rather than stacked on the mega-sized bags of rice to the side. I also think I may have seen them at Lotte Market in Cambridge, if you need a location closer to a T stop (Kendall or Central stations). This was yesterday, and I was only in there briefly but I thought I remembered Tamaki brand too on the top shelf of their rice section (smaller to medium sized bags).

                                        1. re: kobuta
                                          another_adam RE: kobuta Apr 25, 2009 09:52 PM

                                          Thanks! Yeah, when I've seen Tamaki Gold at Kam man, it's been underneath in the produce section, so that sounds right. Lotte doesn't have have haiga (at least, not that I've seen), but they have Tamaki Gold. I actually went to buy some there recently, but it was $37 for a 15 lb bag, so I ended up putting it back in a state of shock... (I guess the days of getting them for $15 are long past-- actually, we used to pay $25 for 50lb bags of it in LA!! sigh) The going rate around town for the gold seems to be about $30 for the 15lb bag these days.

                                          1. re: another_adam
                                            kobuta RE: another_adam Apr 26, 2009 08:02 AM

                                            I think that happened with rice in general, not just the Tamaki. When the cost of rice was doubling (the "imagined shortage" that never really panned out) for all varieties. My mom bought me a bag regular 10lb bag of Thai jasmine rice for $30, when it was selling for $18 2 weeks before. I've never really seen the cost of rice drop back to previous levels since.

                                  2. b
                                    bulldog69 RE: Mr Bigglesworth Apr 27, 2009 03:14 PM

                                    I went to Kotobukiya today and the selection is definitely limited. I talked with one of the workers in Japanese. She said that the new owner is opening a place in Medford Square in August. However, there will be probably be an announcement in the Japanese magazines. The place will not be called Kotobukiya.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bulldog69
                                      davis_sq_pro RE: bulldog69 Apr 27, 2009 08:23 PM

                                      Great! Do you read Japanese magazines as well, and if so will you let us know when it opens?? It will certainly be very much appreciated!

                                    2. Aromatherapy RE: Mr Bigglesworth May 12, 2009 05:17 AM

                                      From a Medford news board:

                                      "The former Kotobukiya employees plan to open a market in Medford Square, in the
                                      former Medford Furniture store space at 65 Riverside Ave. (next to the CVS and
                                      almost directly across the street from the Medford Square Market location).

                                      The market will sell Japanese, Chinese and Korean type groceries and fresh fish
                                      items. The opening is slated for August, pending all the required permits are

                                      (This info was confirmed by City Clerk [ ], whose sister was a long-time
                                      employee at Kotobukiya.)"

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Aromatherapy
                                        kristinayee RE: Aromatherapy May 13, 2009 02:54 PM

                                        Just read the same thing! Can't wait!


                                        1. re: Aromatherapy
                                          kobuta RE: Aromatherapy May 13, 2009 07:52 PM

                                          From the looks of it on Google Maps, doesn't look accessible by T which means it will not be an option for all the car-less folks who frequented Kotobukiya.

                                          1. re: kobuta
                                            BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: kobuta May 13, 2009 08:28 PM

                                            The T has buses too.

                                            The new location is around the corner from the terminus of the Route 96 bus at Medford City Hall. Even at its slowest, that bus runs every 40-50 minutes from Harvard Station, and it runs every 20 minutes during rush hours. That's not untenable.

                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                              kobuta RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps May 14, 2009 07:08 AM

                                              Have you ever tried lugging bottles and other heavy groceries on to a bus and then to transfer on to a train as well (and for me that's an additional transfer on a train)? I suppose that could work for some, but assuming shoppers are also working stiffs where rush hour isn't an option lest we skip work for a grocery trip, the thought of waiting for a bus that comes only every hour or so, doesn't exactly make this easily commutable - at least a far cry from a store right off a T station. If we include all modes of public transportation, just about anywhere is feasible - I think you have to weigh it with what really makes sense.

                                              1. re: kobuta
                                                BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: kobuta May 14, 2009 07:48 AM

                                                Yes, and I do so on a regular basis: I don't own a car. I'm not arguing that it isn't more of a schlep than the current location, but it certainly is not, as you originally put it, inaccessible by T, and it IS an option for car-less folks. It's merely a less convenient one.

                                                1. re: kobuta
                                                  Bob Dobalina RE: kobuta May 14, 2009 08:23 AM

                                                  Reminds me of an old Steven Wright line:

                                                  "Everywhere is 'within walking distance' if you have the time."

                                            2. re: Aromatherapy
                                              steinpilz RE: Aromatherapy May 14, 2009 07:12 AM

                                              Great to hear this, can't wait to get that fish again!

                                            3. b
                                              bulldog69 RE: Mr Bigglesworth May 22, 2009 03:38 PM

                                              If I read about the opening in the Japanese magazines, I will post it here. That is if someone does not beat me to it. It seems like CHers have access to the latest information.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: bulldog69
                                                Jardinia RE: bulldog69 Jun 15, 2009 01:17 PM

                                                Any news on the new shop?

                                                1. re: Jardinia
                                                  steinpilz RE: Jardinia Jun 15, 2009 05:36 PM

                                                  I was thinking the same thing! I was told maybe "at the end of June" so lets hope so.

                                              2. davis_sq_pro RE: Mr Bigglesworth Sep 13, 2009 06:03 PM

                                                Any updates on the new store? My various ingredient stockpiles are used up or almost used up at this point. Must refill soon!

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                                  robertlf RE: davis_sq_pro Sep 13, 2009 07:50 PM

                                                  I visited Ebisuya in Medford a week ago and it looked like an empty store with a few empty shelves in it. It will be months before they open. On the other hand Japan Food Land (or whatever it's called) is open in Brookline. They have a decent selection.

                                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                                    robertlf RE: davis_sq_pro Sep 13, 2009 07:52 PM

                                                    You should head over to Japan Food Land or Japan Village Food in Brookline. If not, there's always Mitsuwa in NJ. Also, HMart (Korean) is opening up in Burlington in about a week.

                                                    1. re: robertlf
                                                      davis_sq_pro RE: robertlf Oct 25, 2009 11:19 AM

                                                      Just got back from my first trip to H Mart. Good news for those on this thread who are still waiting for the new market in Medford but are willing to venture out to Burlington: The H Mart has a huge selection of Japanese items. Pretty much everything I used to buy at Kotobukiya was there, with the exception of some of the pickles I used to pick up. But the gigantic kimchee selection solves that problem nicely, at least for now. Among other things they have Tamaki Haiga, many varieties of natto, and a huge selection of nori. Now I just need to figure out when the off peak times are--I waited almost 15 minutes for a parking space.

                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                                        kobuta RE: davis_sq_pro Oct 25, 2009 03:29 PM

                                                        I just got back from my first trip today too. I wouldn't say it's complete (still no sign of yuzu juice *sigh*), but certainly is decent enough alternative for more common staples in Japanese cooking, like rice, noodles, basic sauces, teas, nori, miso, and some of the fish items. I miss the variety of brands in Kotobukiya, but HMart is certainly a convenient option if you're already there to pick up other ingredients.

                                                        1. re: kobuta
                                                          tammyh RE: kobuta Oct 28, 2009 02:32 PM

                                                          Have you tried Reliable Market in Union Square? I haven't looked for yuzu there before, but my impression is that they have a wide range of sauce/essentials for Korean/Japanese foods.

                                                          Right now, it's my go-to place when I don't want to drive to Burlington, fight cars on a badly designed intersection, and fight more cars for a parking space.

                                                          1. re: tammyh
                                                            kobuta RE: tammyh Oct 28, 2009 07:16 PM

                                                            Yes, and they do have it at Reliable, but I was kind of hoping for an all-in-one stop. Reliable is closer for me, but not necessarily easier to get to because it requires a bus transfer.

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