About Us
Kotobuki Trading is an import and wholesale company located in South San Francisco, California. We inventory a wide array of crafts imported from Japan including ceramics, kitchenware, ironware, lacquer/wood/bamboo, home decor/garden, origami, and more.
Through our business travels to many different regions in Japan, we are able to source products from craftspeople who represent a wide range of styles and influences. A rich tapestry of the spirit of the people, culture, and history of Japan are represented in our products, and we are fortunate to be able to share it with you. We hope that within our selection you discover a bit of the essence and spirit of Japan that have guided these craftspeople, and inspired our journeys over the years.

Hisashi and Akiko Kagami began Kotobuki Trading in 1976 in their home town of San Francisco. Hisashi had been in the industry of importing and selling goods from Japan for many years working for different companies, and felt it was time to start his own business. Kotobuki's first location was in the Potrero Hill District, near 17th and Bryant Street. Like many businesses just starting out, things were on a small scale. Merchandise selection and inventory were limited, as the market at the time was still growing. The concentration of stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Pacific Northwest were mostly Asian gift and grocery stores.
While the company size remained modest, growth over the first several years was steady, thanks to the customer loyalty and the perseverance of Hisashi, Akiko, and their handful of employees. Later, there was success with exposure in other areas of the country, particularly the Midwest and East Coast. By the early 80's, through sales trips and trade shows, business had increased enough that what once was a large space became too small.
In 1988, Kotobuki moved to Victory Avenue in South San Francisco. The new location not only provided extra space for the inventory to grow, but also allowed for a bigger office and showroom. A period of growth began in the mid-90's, fueled by a boom of interest in Japanese and Asian culture. This allowed Kotobuki to expand its product line, and to provide customers with new and exciting original merchandise. In 2002, the business experienced a devastating flood when a nearby canal overflowed and left the office and warehouse in up to 3 feet of water. The flood occurred in early November, a historically busy time for shipping orders for the holiday season. With the hard work of our employees and help from friends and family, Kotobuki was able to continue business during the cleanup effort. Unwilling to suffer the consequences of another flood, a determination was made at that point to relocate.
In early 2003, Kotobuki moved to Harris Court in South San Francisco. The space was ideal. The warehouse and office were very well suited to Kotobuki's needs, and more importantly, well out of harm's way. The planning and move to the new space was a welcome respite from the harsh reality of the ongoing cleanup at the Victory Avenue location. Thanks again to the hard work of our employees, associates, friends and family, the move to Harris Court went smoothly. We continue to do business at our Harris Court location today. We will be looking forward to seeing you soon.
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