The Tzu Chi Tea House, inside the Anamizu General Hospital in Ishikawa Prefecture, provides residents with freshly brewed hot tea and coffee. It is a space full of joy and laughter. |Photo provided by Tzu Chi Japan | 2023/02/16

On February 16, Tzu Chi volunteers started the second phase of hot meal distribution in Anamizu, Ishikawa Prefecture, through a cash-for-work relief program that sought the help of residents affected by the earthquake on January 1. They also opened a Tzu Chi Tea House. Residents are invited to enjoy a cup of tea and engage in heart-to-heart conversations.

Ishikawa Residents Welcome Familiar Faces

Following the New Year’s Day earthquake in the Noto Peninsula, Tzu Chi volunteers provided freshly cooked hot meals for 17 consecutive days in Anamizu, Ishikawa Prefecture. They earned the gratitude from the local community. On January 29, the first phase of hot meal assistance came to an end. Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, instructed that the provision of hot meals should not cease, since the recovery of the disaster area would take time. She also directed the implementation of a cash-for-work relief program to empower local women to supply hot meals, enabling the quake survivors to earn income.

On February 8, the eve of the Lunar New Year, Tzu Chi volunteers Si Dao Chen, Ida Tatsunari, Jian'an Lu, and Chia-ling Chung visited Ishikawa Prefecture to assess the situation and consider the implementation of the cash-for-work program. They also inspected the relief blankets and other supplies delivered to Anamizu that day.

Dr. Koji Shimachu, Superintendent of Anamizu General Hospital in Ishikawa Prefecture, expressed full support on learning of Tzu Chi's plan to launch the second phase of hot meal distribution and the setting up of a Tzu Chi Tea House. Dr. Shimachu has always treasured the red peace charm given to him by Tzu Chi volunteers; he hangs it on his white robe as a blessing. He mentioned that the hospital could serve as a distribution point for hot meals, offering an unused but cleaned-up old café space for Tzu Chi to use. This café has now been transformed into the Tzu Chi Tea House.

On February 13, Tzu Chi volunteers, including Seiho Numata, Shuri Hayashi, Meiling Wang, and Angeline Fransisca returned to Anamizu, Ishikawa Prefecture, to prepare for the start of the cash-for-work program involving local housewives to cook hot meals and to prepare for the opening of the Tzu Chi Tea House.

Tzu Chi initiated a cash-for-work program to cook hot meals, with six local people currently enrolled. Tzu Chi volunteers provide hands-on guidance in cooking techniques, with working hours from 9:00 to 15:00 daily. | Photo provided by Tzu Chi Japan | 2023/02/16

Cash-for-Work Program & Tzu Chi Tea House

On February 16, the second phase of hot meal distribution resumed, with four Tzu Chi volunteers each guiding four quake-affected local people in how to cook hot meals. Some even brought shiitake mushrooms to share. There was a bustling atmosphere in the kitchen as vegetables were chopped and meals cooked. Together with the anticipation of the residents waiting for the hot meals, this reaffirmed the warm connection between Tzu Chi volunteers and the residents of Ishikawa Prefecture.

In addition to the popular hot meals, the freshly brewed tea offered at the Tzu Chi Tea House also brought comfort to many of the quake survivors. A staff member from Anamizu General Hospital brought his elderly relative specifically to enjoy the tea;  during their evacuation period, the only drinks they had access to were canned coffee and bottled tea. Being able to sit in a tranquil space adorned with calligraphy scrolls and savor the taste of a hot cup of tea was truly a source of immense happiness.

At a neighboring table, a family shared their nostalgia for Tzu Chi's hot meals with the volunteers. The volunteers expressed their concerns about cooking outdoors and the possibility of the stove being extinguished by the cold winds during heavy snowfall, potentially delaying the delivery of meals. As the stress at the time flooded back to their memories, a young man overheard and took out his phone to proudly show a photo he had taken of the volunteers cooking hot meals under a makeshift shelter in the cold wind.


The hot meals provided by Tzu Chi volunteers in Ishikawa Prefecture have left a lasting impression on residents, who greatly cherish the memories. The resumption of hot meal distribution on February 16 was warmly welcomed by the local people. | Photo provided by Tzu Chi Japan | 2023/02/16

Currently, several essential facilities in Anamizu are still undergoing reconstruction. While the kitchen preparation area of Anamizu General Hospital has running water, facilities like toilets are still without a water supply. Additionally, outside the Anamizu Town Sawayama Communication Hall Pluto, laundry and shampoo areas have been added. It will still take time for Ishikawa Prefecture to return to its normal life. So the hot meals provided by Tzu Chi, the assistance through the cash-for-work, and the uplifting atmosphere of the Tzu Chi Tea House all aim to provide  motivation for the residents of Ishikawa Prefecture to move forward.

Story By: Li-Shing Lin Shyu | 2024/02/17 | Japan.  
Edited by: Tzu Chi Foundation Department of Literature and History