Born in Kofu, Yamanashi in 1970, Koji Hagihara graduated from Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka to pursue career as a chef. In 1989, he started at Dynasty Restaurant at Hilton Tokyo Bay, and then moved to Louran at Shozan Rezort Kyoto. In 2002, Chef Hagihara joined Wakiya Ichiemicharou, one of the most prominent Chinese restaurants in Japan, and served as a sous chef. He was the right hand man of the Iron Chef Yuji Wakiya, playing an active role in various TV shows, magazines, product development for kitchen appliances, and food events worldwide. Chef Hagihara moved to New York in 2007 as the executive chef at New York WAKIYA Gramercy Park Hotel and charmed the VIPs from all over the world. After joining the mega star Japanese restaurant in West Village, HAKATA TONTON, as the manager and executive chef in 2009, he has regularly appeared on TV shows and numerous events throughout the U.S., such as the 16th Annual Worlds of Flavor International Conference and Festival at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, CA. Recently he had the honor of preparing dishes at the residence of Japanese ambassador. Chef Hagihara is the very first certified sushi chef in New York by AJSA Sushi Skills Institute. His solid technique and unparalleled taste in cooking is confirmed by a number of rewards he received over the years, and his unique dishes continue to captivate New Yorkers.