Japan’s oldest existing Chinese restaurant in Yokohama files for bankruptcy amid pandemic

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Heichinrou’s main restaurant is seen in the Naka district of Yokohama on May 17, 2022. (Mainichi/Yoshiki Koide)

YOKOHAMA – The main restaurant operator of established Chinese restaurant Heichinrou has filed for bankruptcy with liabilities totaling some 305 million yen (approximately $2.35 million), and the Yokohama District Court has decided to initiate proceedings of bankruptcy, Yokohama of Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. branch announced June 2.

Founded in 1884 during the Meiji era (1868-1912), the beloved restaurant in Yokohama’s Chinatown is said to be the oldest existing Chinese restaurant in Japan. The restaurant had closed in May to move elsewhere, but now that its operator has gone bankrupt, another company operating other restaurants will take over operations. This company will secure a new location for the flagship store and prepare for its reopening.

In March 2017, a former operator of the main restaurant Heichinrou went through special liquidation proceedings due to declining sales, and a separate company with the same name Heichinrou took over its operation. However, the prolonged coronavirus pandemic has dealt an additional blow to one of Chinatown’s symbols.

The Heichinrou Main Store was lost in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and again in World War II, but was rebuilt following both disasters. In 1986, a seven-story building was constructed to house the restaurant with party spaces and large and small private rooms. The restaurant attracted not only tourists but also many businessmen and dignitaries.

(Japanese original by Yoshiki Koide, Yokohama Office)

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