Meet the experts
From sake sommeliers to Japanese bakers - our specialist team bring Japan to you!
Read on to find out about the amazing team who work at Japan Centre who come from across the globe.
From sushi chefs & expert fishmongers who make our famous hand made sushi daily to sake sommeliers bringing you fresh and exciting sake direct from Japan for you to buy and try in our restaurants. Our Japanese bakers bring you bold and inspiring bakes with fresh ingredients and our mixologists pour Japan in a glass!
Our team share one passion, Japan and sharing it with you!
Japan Centre CEO
Born in Fukuoka in Kyushu, home to the famous Hakata tonkotsu ramen, Tak came to the UK in 1975. Seeing a gap in the market for Japanese books and imported Japanese goods, Tak established his first business as a small wholesaler selling Japanese books In London.
From this small market for Japanese products Tak moved into retailing directly to customers with the first official Japan Centre premises opening at 5 Warwick Street, London W1. His motivation was to cater and support the Japanese expat community by bringing them a taste of home which he had struggled to find since emigrating. From here, Japan Centre has since grown to be one of the most established and influential Japanese food halls in Europe.
In his spare time, Tak is an avid motorcylist and loves nothing more than riding around the countryside. Tak also has lived in Hong Kong, has a pilot's licence and likes golf and sake and spicy food!
As Managing Director Hannah manages the daily functions of Japan Centre Group, effectively transforming their vision into reality. Her efforts are a critical part of bringing the huge success of the business today, through tremendous inspiration & innovation.
Hannah has brought to life Shoryu Ramen in 2012, a real taste of authentic Hakata Tonktosu in London and spearheaded the move of our flagship Japan Centre food hall to our new home in Leicester Square.
As mixed British Japanese Hannah was raised in Japan and the U.K and is now bringing up her 2 boys bilingual. Previously she has been in a kitkat advert and is partial to a bit of Japanese nail art (and Ken Watanabe).
Operations Manager & Sake Sommelier
Mimi Tokumine has over 30 years experience working in the hospitality sector in Japan and here in London as Operations Manager for Shoryu and Heddon Yokocho restaurants. Her passion is her country’s cuisine and omotenashi - the spirit of unconditional Japanese hospitality where she ensures every diner receives the very best customer service and experience, a true sense of Japan in London. Mimi is also an expert sake sommelier, passing the prestigious Kikizake shi sake course in Japan in 2014.
Mimi's favourite Japanese food is sushi and she loves to visit Kyoto when she can and she loves dogs!
General Manager & Sake Sommelier
Nao has worked at Japan Centre since 2003 and is not only an expert on all Japanese ingredients, but also a trained sake sommelier and can help you with your sake selection! Nao manages Europe’s largest Japanese food hall in Westfield London, ensuring it is well stocked with over 3,000 different products from Japan and Asia.
His favourite pastimes include onsen, izakaya and Japanese crime movies.
Kanji is our Executive Chef and ‘Shoryu Ramen Boss’ who helped bring the authentic flavours of Japan to the UK. His skillful and masterful expertise in Japanese food has made Japan Centre & Shoryu what it is today. Being a Hakata native and growing up on ramen, Kanji is passionate about sharing his hometown’s food.
In his spare time, he loves DIY, and cooking Italian favorites like spaghetti and pizza for family and friends. His drink of choice is Japanese of course - shochu - classic and timeless!
Japan Centre Area Manager
Miki has worked at Japan Centre for over 19 years and is responsible for the smooth operation of all our Japanese foodhalls including our flagship store - Japan Centre Leicester Square.
Miki also manages all our regional food and drink fairs helping our customers discover the delights of fresh produce from across Japan from rice, to artisanal matcha from Kyoto.
Miki in her spare time loves playing Oculus VR computer games and escaping the city and going camping!
Area Head Chef
Originally from the Philippines, Andy has always had a calling for creating exquisite flavours in his dishes. Shoryu Ramen’s Head Chef started cooking in his college days and now has over 15 years of Japanese cuisine under his belt. Andy was head hunted due to his culinary reputation forged from hard work and unrivalled raw talent.
Group Strategy and Operations Manager
Dan Williams has worked in retail and hospitality management for over 15 years in various sectors gaining plenty of knowledge and experience on the journey.
He joined the Japan Centre Group in late 2017 and was fortunate enough to be heavily involved in the opening of Europe’s largest Japanese supermarket, Ichiba. Every day brings a new opportunity and that’s what makes his role so exciting.
Dan loves to spend time with family, cooking and watching Star Wars. Favourite drink is Nikka whisky from the barrel.
Maria Vittoria Vecchione
Area Bar Manager
Maria Vittoria Vecchione is the Area Bar Manager for Shoryu Ramen and has a wealth of sake experience.
She is instrumental in putting together the drinks and cocktails list at all of the restaurants and food halls and has created over 50 sake inspired cocktails each a fusion of traditional Japanese flavours and ingredients with modern twists.
Maria also holds regular sake workshops to help educate Londoners about what sake is and how to drink it. Look out for them on our social media pages.
In her free time, Vicky loves to travel and loves to cook all types of Asian food especially kimchi fried rice and donburi!
Ashan started his bakery career in Wattala, a busy town in Sri Lanka inspired by his mum baking in their family kitchen.
In 2018 he joined us to manage our Japanese bakery, creating traditional Japanese bakes from Shokupan to melon pan alongside new and innovative flavours with fusion twists. A real innovative creator, Ashan’s products are now lining the shelves of our newly opened Mochi bar.
His love in life is cricket, watching and playing and anything on Netflix - especially the cooking shows for inspiration!
Sushi Chef & Traditional Japanese Fishmonger
Tokunaga has been working at Japan Centre for over 15 years and has been a chef since the 1970s. An expert fishmonger, his unrivalled skill prepares fresh butcher cuts of meat & fish for shabu-shabu, sushi and sashimi for Japan Centre Ichiba. A true sushi master, mentor and teacher he is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise with new chefs coming into the business and teaching traditional Japanese methods.
Come along to Ichiba, where he will cut the freshest fish for perfect sushi & sashimi.
Tom has been with us at Japan Centre for over 16 years, having worked across nearly all departments in the business he now manages food production across all Japan Centre food halls to make sure we have enough sushi and soul food for all our hungry customers! Tom also creates brand new recipes to bring current tastes and trends from Japan and Asia to the UK, from mapo tofu to fresh salmon poke.
His other passion is table tennis - an avid player and watching any kind of sport. On holiday he loves long forest walks, picking wild mushrooms and cooking for the family.
Japan Centre General Manager
Jinjin joined the company in 2010 and has worked across our different sites from our foodhall in Piccadilly, managing the food counter to our new flagship store location in Leciester Square, ensuring the smooth operation of the site so all our customers can pick up their ingredients and fresh soul food!
During her time at Japan Centre, Jinjin has learnt to speak fluent Japanese. To relax she loves TikTok from cooking videos to looking for new trends!