2018 Berkeley JACL Pioneer Award Recipient Lee “Cubby” Nakamura

Lee Nakamura, a native son of Berkeley who is better known by those close to him as “Cubby”, is the Berkeley Chapter’s recipient of its 2018 Pioneer Award. The Chapter is proud to recognize Cubby for his long time service to the East Bay community and to the JACL. Cubby is the co owner of the Tokyo Fish Market, 1220 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. Tokyo Fish is an East Bay institution with a large number of loyal customers who shop there for fresh sushi grade fish, rice, soy sauce, and many other Japanese food staples.

Born and raised in the Berkeley area, Cubby participated in many sports programs as a youth and enjoyed his time with the Berkeley Bears local basketball and baseball teams. He graduated from Berkeley High School and SF City College where he earned his degree in Culinary Arts.

Cubby’s culinary interests began at the early age of 14 where he was a dishwasher at Toraya Restaurant in Albany. He became a manager at the Toraya. He moved on to co-manage the seafood department at Berkeley Bowl Market for over 8 years. He was also the co-owner of Osumo Restaurant in Oakland. In 1988 Cubby joined forces with his current business partner, Larry Fujita, at Tokyo Fish Market. Established in 1963 by his partner’s parents, Isamu and Tazuye Fujita, Tokyo Fish is a fixture in the East Bay and is a popular place to shop for both Asian and nonAsian customers who enjoy Japanese food. Cubby’s specialty is in the buying and stocking of seafood where the store merchandises more than 100 kinds of fish including bluefin tuna from Japan, farmed salmon from Scotland, and halibut. The store also stocks a wide variety of Asian condiments, noodles, rice, Japanese snacks and candies, sake, bento boxes, and sushi.

From the time he started working, Cubby has had a passion to work with youth. He functions as a mentor to the youth and supports the local community. Indeed, many local organizations have benefited from Cubby’s generous contributions and support of local community activities. Cubby is married to Cathy, and they have two sons, Andrew and Ryan, both of whom have played team sports and work in the family business.