As an exclusively Japanese grocery store in Austin, Asahi Imports brings a piece of Japan to the city.

“If you come visit our store, it’s kind of like taking a little mini trip to Japan,” Asahi Imports owner Sally Matsumae said.

After moving from Japan, Matsumae’s grandmother, Shigeko Burnie, discovered a need for ethnic food suppliers in Austin. Burnie soon began selling imported goods out of her garage in early 1967 and opened Shigeko’s Imports off West North Loop Boulevard months later.

In the 1980s, the store began offering solely Japanese products as Asahi Imports under the direction of Matsumae’s father, Tetsutaro Matsumae, and relocated to Burnet Road in 2004. Matsumae, who assumed ownership in 2018, is the third generation in her family to run the business. In December, she helped Asahi Imports open a second location on South Lamar Boulevard.

“We knew that a lot of our customers come from all parts of Austin,” Matsumae said. “Being more accessible to the customer or shoppers was something that we really wanted to offer, and I think that there is also a lack of Asian representation on that side of town.”

From noodles and rice, produce, fish, Japanese snacks, sweets, drinks and more, Asahi Imports’ two locations offer all the ingredients and staple brands needed for the complete Japanese meal experience, Matsumae said.

At the in-house Onigiri Corner, employees prepare fresh rice delicacies known as onigiri, or rice balls.

“I want us to be that common thread of the Japanese community,” Matsumae said.

Matsumae said one of her main goals is making sure shoppers feel comfortable, as the Japanese shopping experience is unfamiliar for many Austin residents.

“We’ll help you gather all the ingredients you need for it and kind of walk you through it,” Matsumae said. “We definitely want to make our store approachable for everybody.”

Main: 6105 Burnet Road, Austin

South: 3005 S. Lamar Blvd., Ste. B-105B, Austin


Hours: Tue.-Thu., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; closed Mon.