Challenge Dairy Products Inc.
KOMOTO'S DEPARTMENT STORE & HOTEL
The history of Komoto’s Department Store & Hotel dates back to 1901 when Riichi Kamikawa called upon his brothers, Mitsuji, Masuichi and Koichi from Japan to open Kamikawa Brothers, a general merchandise store located on Kern Street between G Street & China Alley. The Kamikawa Brothers were a group of Issei (first generation Japanese immigrants) who owned a multifaceted immigrant business enterprise in Fresno & the Central Valley.
Komoto’s Department Store (originally known as Kamikawa) was built in 1908 in what is known today as Chinatown. Komoto’s catered to Japanese Americans, the ground floor served as a general merchandise store while the second floor was a hotel. During the early 1900’s the Chinatown district was bustling with business, Fresno’s Nihonmachi (Japantown) was located adjacent to Chinatown on Kern, G Street & China Alley drawing in Japanese customers from Selma, Fowler, Reedley, Clovis, Parlier, Sanger, Kingsburg and Madera.
When Riichi Kamikawa returned to Japan in the 1920s, the Kamikawa Brothers’s enterprises began to close. The general merchandise store closed in 1936 & in 1938 Mr. Kanichi Komoto purchased the building & opened Komoto’s Department Store operating on the street level & basement.
The store closed during 1942-1945 after the family was sent to an internment camp during World War ll. Although the store was closed, the family continued to make payments on the property during the war. Komoto’s reopened in 1945, with the first floor serving once again as a department store & the second floor operating as a hotel (Asia Hotel). Komoto’s remained in operation until 1993, today, only the building remains waiting to come alive once more.
1536-1542 Kern Street
Fresno, CA 93706
The Kamikawa Brothers owned a multifaceted immigrant business enterprise in Fresno & the surrounding Central Valley. On top of founding the general merchandise store & hotel now known as Komoto’s they expanded their business by opening stores in Selma, Del Rey & Hanford.
Their enterprise grew to include a tailor shop, a public bath, a bank, a grocery, a Western-style restaurant, a hotel, with a branch hotel and storage nearby. They were also one of several Fresno businesses that sent horse-drawn wagons to farms to sell supplies on a regular circuit.