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“Mobile hot bath” running in disaster areas: Noto Peninsula earthquake


Four and a half months after the Noto Peninsula earthquake, roads are being restored and temporary housing is being built in the affected areas of Ishikawa Prefecture, but many collapsed houses still remain not being cleaned up, and water and sewage services are still unavailable in some areas. Since February, AAR Japan (Association for Aid and Relief, Japan) has been providing mobile hot bath service.

Mobile hot bath trunk converted from a truck parked in a vacant lot on the beach

AAR staff member preparing for mobile hot bath along the coast in the Hane district of Noto Town, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, April 20, 2024

“Every time a bath car comes here, we come to take a bath. My daughter with a disability doesn’t like to take a bath in the Self-Defense Forces because there are too many people. We usually boil water in a pot and fill the bathtub with it, which is very hard. This bath really helps us because we can take out time.”

A mobile hot bath parked on the beach in the Hane district of Noto Town, Ishikawa Prefecture. When the operation starts at 10:00 a.m. every Saturday, residents come to bathe in turn. An elderly woman who came to take a bath with her daughter told us happily.

Inside the mobile hot bath. Large tank, bathtub, shower, etc. are equipped

Inside of the mobile hot bath, which was converted from a truck. It is equipped with a filtration system to keep the hot water clean

Takuto Sakamoto, 13, a junior high school student who lives nearby, said, “I come here every time. I usually go to the Self-Defense Forces bath 15 minutes away by car, but it is far away and the waiting time is long, so it is a little inconvenient. I am happy to use the mobile hot bath because I can relax by myself.” After the earthquake, he temporarily evacuated to Kanazawa City, but this spring he is attending his former junior high school from his home. “Fortunately, my house was safe, with only some furniture falling over, but the hardest thing is that we still can’t use the water supply even after four months.” he said.

Two people talking on the beach

Mihoko Nagai of AAR talking to Takuto Sakamoto after taking a bath in AAR’s mobile hot bath

The evacuation center at Matsunami Junior High School in Noto Town, where 43 people had evacuated since end of April, asked us to come to the school to assist with bathing as the Self-Defense Forces baths were being withdrawn. They had been set up in the school’s parking lot at first, and had been moved to another evacuation center because temporary housing was being constructed here. Some people do not have their own cars or other means of transportation, and some need assistance. The AAR’s mobile hot bath, which makes the rounds twice a week, has been well received, with people saying that “It is easy to use and very helpful.”

Three women walking to the mobile hot bath. One of them is walking with a cane

An elderly woman (right) uses the mobile hot bath with the help of a volunteer caregiver at Matsunami Junior High School in Noto Town

The water outage that continued in many areas has been gradually resolved, and water and sewage services have now been restored in most municipalities. However, not all homes have water service, as water pipes run to the premises of individual households need to be repaired by each household. Some people say, “I want to repair it as soon as possible, but there are hundreds of people waiting for a contractor.” Many of the survivors have yet to rebuild their homes or move into temporary housing.

AAR will continue to support the survivors of the Noto Peninsula earthquake by providing mobile hot bath service while assessing their needs.

Children playing in an urban area where collapsed houses remain

Children play next to a collapsed house in Machino-machi, Wajima, Japan, April 20, 2024

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