September 3, 1918 — February 22, 2021
Mr. Kikuji Asai, 102, a long-time resident of Mar Vista, California, passed away peacefully at his home on February 22, 2021. Mr. Asai will be remembered by those who knew and loved him for his love of life as well as his optimism, generosity, and his infectious smile.
Born on September 3, 1918 in Wakayama, Japan, Mr. Asai moved to Los Angeles in 1955 with his wife Kiyoko (who preceded him in death) and their four young children.
In 1965, the couple opened Mikasa, a popular Japanese restaurant on the border of West LA and Culver City that was a favorite to generations of locals. Even in his final months, it was not uncommon for Mr. Asai to be approached on the street by past Mikasa customers who recognized him and would fondly reminisce about their memories of the restaurant’s delicious food, especially his legendary tempura.
For over 80 years, Mr. Asai dedicated much of his life to his church Seicho no Ie. He was a prominent member, teacher and mentor who was always eager to share it’s philosophy of gratitude with those he met. His fellow members were more than constant companions in his life and travels, they were his second family that he loved immensely.
His eagerness to share his philosophical studies — which he described as his “life’s work and purpose” — led him to start the Los Angeles Mokkei Club where he taught that “the greatness of a work is not to be kept to oneself, rather it’s value increases and brings about happiness only when it is shared with those around you.”
He lived life to the fullest and especially enjoyed good food, travel and cheering on his beloved Dodgers as well as the Lakers and UCLA, too. His many hobbies included calligraphy, Shigin, and trips to the casino. He also was an active member in many organizations including Wakayama Kai, Ikki Kai and Ryouma Kai.
He is survived by his children: Nobuo Asai, Noriko (Paul) Thomas, Keiko Blanchard, and Emiko (Skip Purper) Asai; grandchildren (and great-grandchildren): Jennifer, Sherri (Madison, Claire, Elijah), Ryan (Dylan, Lily), Michelle, David, Staci (Leiko, Lilliana, Lanalei), Anthony, & Monique.
Even though he was 102 years young, family and friends were shocked by his passing as he remained eternally youthful until the end of his eventful life. He would no doubt credit his longevity (which he described as “living life with a purpose”) to his being “unconditionally grateful” and positive. Every morning he said “thank you” 20 times out loud before rising from his bed and then stood looking into the bathroom mirror and saying to his reflection “Good morning, young man!”
A gravesite service will be held on Friday, April 9 at 2:00 pm at Inglewood Park Cemetery (720 E. Florence Ave. Inglewood, CA 90301). Due to Covid restrictions, face masks and social distancing will be required and no seating will be provided. Anyone concerned with their ability to stand for the entirety of the service is encouraged to bring their own chair. For information, please contact Nobuo Asai, (310) 592-5256.