FINDING FUJIMOTO: Join the search for the missing sushi master in North Korea

PART 4: The search begins for Mr. Fujimoto

NEXT: PART 5: Welcome to Takahashi Pyongyang’s Newest Sushi Restaurant!  

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March 4th, 2017 | the Paektu Blog | Michael Spavor 

Until this week, I had heard only a few rumors, from our mutual friends, that Mr. Fujimoto had not returned to Japan from a second trip that he made to Pyongyang in June of last year. Perhaps we were slightly concerned, but we also knew that he was most likely fine and I also knew privately that he was still planning to realize his dream of opening a high-end Japanese sushi or ramen restaurant in the DPRK and also to return to the country he loves and misses so much.

Mr. Fujimoto is not the type of person that uses social media, and finding friends and places in Pyongyang can be a bit more challenging than in other metropolitan cities in the world, as you can imagine. Until now nobody had really heard from him and some people, myself included, were wondering where he was.

Last December I went to the Masik Ski Resort, near Wonsan and Pyongyang with a few pro skiers. When we arrived back in Pyongyang I started a mission to see if I could find Fujimoto and his restaurant, that is IF either of them existed.

I had heard of a couple new Japanese restaurants which had recently opened up. One was rumoured to have opened on September 9th (9.9 which is the Foundation day of the DPRK) & one was said to have opened on October 10th (10.10, which is the Korean Workers Party Foundation Day) both significant dates but after going to both places in person I hadn’t found Mr. Fujimoto or even found anyone who had any idea of who he was.

While in Pyongyang an overseas friend contacted me on facebook and told me the location of where he thought the restaurant might be. I decided to go and check it out the area that evening but I was unable to find any sushi restaurant there.

Then I asked a waitress from a nearby restaurant and she said, “There is no Japanese restaurant here, but they are opening a Japanese restaurant behind this building on the 4th or 5th floor.”

I quickly went downstairs and around the corner, following her directions, only to find a locked door.  A man approached me as I was searching for a sign of any restaurant on the 4th or 5th floor overlooking that alley. He politely asked me what I was looking for and if he could help. I said YES and told him I was looking for a new Japanese restaurant in this area.

He said “Oh that? There is a new Japanese restaurant on the 5th floor but it’s not open yet.” He said it should open soon, maybe later in the month.

I still wasn’t exactly sure if this was the right place but figured it had to be, based on the hints I’d been given, and that it would be opening soon, or at least that’s what I hoped.

Last week one of my colleagues, who will remain anonymous, was in Pyongyang for business, so I asked him if he had time to take a look around that area and see if he could find my friend Mr. Fujimoto and see if his restaurant had opened.

After telling him some specific directions, my colleague went to that area, walked around the back of the building and went up the elevator and found a Japanese ramen restaurant and inside that restaurant was the private sushi restaurant with Mr. Fujimoto working behind the counter. At last, we had found him!

I was so excited that we had confirmed we had found him, and also excited that his dream had come true.

That night my colleague had dinner and a few drinks with a few friends at Takahashi. I trusted him when he said they definitely have the best sushi and ramen in Pyongyang and for that matter the DPRK.


I haven’t seen Mr. Fujimoto since April of last year, but now that I’ve found him I’m going to visit his new sushi restaurant “Takahashi”, this April for the first time. The trip is planned from April 14th to 17th 2017 and it is during the 105th Birthday celebrations of the country’s founder. It’s going to be an amazing trip to see North Korea!  See below for more information on how to join.

Michael Spavor | Paektu Cultural Exchange


日本語の情報 .pdf   Download PDF

PART 1: Introduction 

(with video)

PART 2: The Man, the Chef, and the Mystery: Who is Fujimoto Kenji?

PART 3: How Fujimoto and I first met    

PART 4: The search begins for Mr. Fujimoto

PART 5: Welcome to Takahashi Pyongyang’s Newest Sushi Restaurant!  

(photos & video of Restaurant)   

PART 6: The Takahashi Sushi Bar & Ramen Restaurant Review

(posting pictures and video’s from our April 14-17th trip

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