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A meal that warms body and soul. Survivors cooperate in providing meals: Noto Peninsula Earthquake


One month after the Noto Peninsula earthquake, approximately 14,000 people are still living in evacuation shelters in Ishikawa Prefecture, and AAR Japan (Association for Aid and Relief, Japan) emergency support team started a soup kitchen with a partner organization immediately after the earthquake. Since February, we support a group of local volunteers, including a chef from a restaurant in Wajima City, in their own efforts to provide food to the displaced people.

Chinese rice bowls simmering in a large pot

A chef cooks a soup kitchen meal in Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture, on February 1

The “L’Atelier Takidashi” group of volunteers in Wajima City, led by Chef Shunya Ikehata of the French restaurant “L’Atelier de NOTO,” serves approximately 1,500 to 1,600 meals daily to evacuees living at home in the neighborhood and those sheltered in evacuation centers. The meals include Chinese rice bowls, curry, stew, and other dishes that are rich in vegetables, low in salt, and nutritionally balanced to consider the health of everyone, including the elderly.

People chopping carrots and other vegetables

Members preparing for the soup kitchen

Twenty-five people, including disaster victims, are registered as members of the soup kitchen. Mr. Ikehata himself is living in a camper after his restaurant and home collapsed. Mr. Ikehata said, “There are many people who have been evacuated from their homes or are still staying in their cars, so we would like to deliver hot meals not only to the evacuation centers but also to these people. We have no choice now but to pull together and get through this. He added, “I don’t know when it will be, but when people who had no choice but to evacuate outside of Wajima or outside of the prefecture come back, I want to warmly welcome them so that they will not feel sorry for having left Wajima, and together we will rebuild a good town.

A female member of the group said, “Immediately after the earthquake, my family evacuated to higher ground, and after the tsunami warning was switched to advisory, I stayed in my car near my home. While I was helping with a soup kitchen at a local shrine, I was invited by an acquaintance to join the L’Atelier soup kitchen. My house was partially damaged and things are scattered all over the place. My junior high school daughter and I just have a hard time staying at home, but participating in this activity makes me smile.”

Smiling members of the group

Survivors themselves participate in the soup kitchen

Plates filled with rice and Chinese rice bowls for distribution

The menu for the day was Chinese rice bowls

A nearby resident who received the meal smiled and said, “It was very cold again today, so I am very grateful to receive a warm meal with lots of vegetables.” The dishes prepared by the survivors themselves, who actively worked together to prepare them, are filling and warming both body and soul.

The L’Atelier soup kitchen was initially supported by an overseas organization, but since the support will end at the end of January, AAR will take over the program at their request and provide support for personnel expenses necessary for its operation from February onward.

AAR will continue support activities in cooperation with the people in the affected areas and other organizations. We would like to ask for your cooperation in AAR’s emergency support for the Noto Peninsula earthquake.

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