The Union Democrat

Ryo Kazuko ‘Kay’ ‘Kaz’ Nishikawa


1936 — 2021

Ryo Kazuko “Kay” or “Kaz” Nishikawa passed away at home on Sept. 13, 2021, with her daughter by her side. She was 10 days from her 85th birthday.

Born to a Geisha in 1936 and raised in the hills of Kyoto, Japan, Kaz came to the states in 1956 after she married an American soldier. She had two children named Janet and Steven.

She was hardworkin­g, funny and smart, and soon became a staple in the San Francisco Japantown restaurant community. For over 15 years she ran one of Sonora’s best and most popular restaurant­s, Kyoto House. It was during a fishing trip to Pinecrest that she saw the building and decided to purchase it. By doing this, she helped shape the culinary landscape of Sonora, bringing authentic Japanese cuisine to this tiny mountain town.

Kaz is survived by her daughter, Janet Zingano, and Janet’s boyfriend, Phillip Mcelroy, of Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado; her goddaughte­r, Lisette Sweetland, of Sonora; as well as numerous friends who loved her dearly. She was preceded in death by her son, Steven.

A celebratio­n is being planned for spring 2022.

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