Fulamingo is a partnership between Kana Hinohara Hanson and Erik Hanson.
Kana and Erik have been married for six years. Before they were a couple, Kana and Erik worked together as managers at a Japanese restaurant. Kana was Erik’s boss. They both agree that they worked great together. "There was no funny business!" says Erik. It's true that only started dating a while later, after Erik had moved on to another job.
The two lived in Puerto Rico for a stint, where Erik ran a small popular cocktail bar, and Kana managed an apparel and jewelry boutique. Following Hurricane Maria's devastation they moved back to Portland, where Kana opened a small beloved Japanese deli called Giraffe. Erik worked with Kana there as the sake buyer. Giraffe sadly had to close, but Kana and Erik still wanted to do work together that shared their love of Japan.
"Fulamingo sort of naturally emerged from Erik's dream to open his own sake shop, me wanting to have a business that let me explore and share my Japanese heritage, and Covid-19 sort of messing everything up."With the needs of safety and social distancing, their original plans for a physical market kind of stopped making sense. The real best thing seemed to be to have the business be entirely online. And that's how Fulamingo.com was born.
Kana is a first generation Japanese-American. She is the oldest daughter of her Tokyoite parents, who left Japan shortly before she was born. Kana grew up in the Bay Area, roaming the forested hills where Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters once used to adventure. She considers herself lucky to have grown up with her mother's Japanese cooking, and getting to take trips to Japan. Kana has been in the restaurant industry nearly her whole adult life, waiting tables and managing restaurants.
Erik fell in love with Japan after he went there for a student exchange program, in high school. Food in Japan was a big thing that really got to him. Erik remembers, "The first thing that really struck me was my host mom's breakfast: I thought it was so cool to get to have savory things like fish, rice, and soup, instead of cereal with milk." During college Erik spent a summer at Hokkaido University and ended up with a major in Japanese language and culture from Portland State University. "I’m still kind of shocked and grateful to the thread of continuity that wound up connecting my Japanese college experience to cooking, serving, and bartending in my post-college live." As he continued to work with Japanese food, Erik naturally discovered that he really, really, liked sake.