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U-District business owner, immigrant describes daily crime on the Ave

Samurai Noodle, Inc., on the Ave in the U-District struggles with rampant crime in the neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Ryo Izawa)

At first glance, Ryo Izawa would appear to be living the American Dream. He immigrated to the United States from Japan, started a family, and opened Samurai Noodle, Inc., a Japanese restaurant with locations in Seattle’s University District and Chinatown-International District, in addition to branches in Texas and Utah.

But in the last few years, Izawa’s American Dream has turned into an American nightmare. In just the past two months, his U-District restaurant was burglarized three times.

“Almost weekly, I can find needles and human waste behind my store,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It’s kind of sad to say this, but it’s a pretty [big] mess.”

When Samurai Noodle was broken into in early December, burglars stole an antique set of Japanese armor and a Samurai sword. Izawa had brought these family heirlooms to the U.S. from Japan.

U-District business owner witnesses regular violence outside shop

“It was very pricey, but more than that, I have a lot of feelings in them,” he said. “I wished to give them to my daughter in the future, but not anymore.”

Although he has invested in security systems and captured the burglars on his video camera, they have not been caught. He believes they are getting more brazen because they do not fear repercussions.

“They just don’t care, [even though] they are on my camera — but they just do whatever they want to do,” Izawa said.

It is not just at Samurai Noodle where Izawa has seen these crimes. He was shocked to see people regularly urinating at the entrance to a church next door.

“I think it’s so disrespectful,” Izawa said.

None of his locations in Utah or Texas have suffered as big of problems as his Seattle locations, in particular his U-District restaurant.

“They’re saying, ‘Woah, Seattle is just a mess,'” he said of his Houston staff.

As if the crimes are not enough to worry about, there is the backlash that can occur on social media. Izawa recently made a post on his personal Facebook page thanking the Seattle Police Department for everything they have done to help solve the crimes that have been committed against his business. But anti-cop activists attacked the Facebook post.

“I just wanted to show my appreciation and respect for SPD because they have always helped me,” Izawa said.

Despite the city’s problems, Izawa remains committed to the city that he chose as his home, and hopes the future will bring better times.

“I love Seattle — I have friends here, and we all hope just for a good life here,” he said.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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