Thousands of pies and buns arrive at facilities within hours of asking.

On what was meant to be a holiday week in Japan, torrential rains fell over much of the country causing widespread flooding and landslides. The death toll has risen to eight and 18 municipalities have been declared disaster areas so far with more rain still to come.

One affected area is Soja City in Okayama Prefecture where nine evacuation centers were set up on 14 August that accommodated 371 residents who heeded the call. Given the sudden nature of evacuation shelters they’re usually spartan conditions, but in this case evacuees were greeted with the unexpected luxury of 1,400 pieces of baked goods within hours of their arrival, all donated by Yamazaki Baking.

Meanwhile, in Hiroshima City, some 2,000 pies, buns, and sandwiches were distributed to shelters between 13 and 16 August. On 15 August, neighboring Akitakata City was given 900 baked goods for their shelters. Once again, this was all done by Yamazaki Baking company alone.

▼ Yamazaki is the maker of Japan’s famous Lunch Pack premade sandwich pouches

If you’re keeping track, that’s well over 4,000 items donated to shelters in scattered affected locations around Japan almost instantaneously, and I have an inkling that these are just the ones we’re hearing about.

Part of the reason for the incredibly fast donation is that the areas send out a request to the company for assistance. This is because Yamazaki Baking has an extensive history of disaster relief. Yamazaki bread was dispatched during the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, and Soja City again when it was hit by heavy rain in 2018. During sudden blizzards in 2014, 2018 and 2019 that left thousands of motorists stranded, a fleet of Yamazaki trucks arrived and hand delivered bread to victims.

It’s enough that in times of disaster a Yamazaki truck with its signature picture of a girl eating a sandwich is about as expected as a fire truck and ambulance.

▼ A driver found himself behind a Yamazaki truck in Soja City, where flooding has limited traffic to one lane

Even despite their track record with donations, Soja Mayor Soichi Kataoka tweeted his amazement and appreciation of Yamazaki’s speed and professionalism. All in the same day that the evacuation was called for, Yamazaki coordinated with city officials to evenly and quickly distribute a surplus of bread where it was needed most.

“Yamazaki Baking dropped this off at the Showa area evacuation center without delay and without a fuss. What can I say about this company? It is extremely appreciated.”

The way Yamazaki seems to be instantly on the scene whenever a disaster strikes has drawn comparisons to beloved childhood character Anpanman, a superhero whose head is a sweet-bean-filled bun which he sometimes allows others to eat when they are stranded and hungry.

▼ It’s okay though. He just gets a new head after someone takes a bite out of it.

So, how does a baked goods company arrive at the scene, regardless of where it is in Japan, so fast that they too could be considered first responders?

▼ “Yamazaki Baking delivering to a disaster area is the real Anpanman, cool!”

The reason is also why their bread tastes so good no matter where in Japan you are: They have factories everywhere. To be exact, there are 26 factories across Japan and the company handles its own distribution centers and trucking, all so that the products get to consumers in the freshest condition possible.

But it’s this same distribution system that also makes Yamazaki an ideal national disaster response network. All it needed was to be a company that is not only willing to help, but eager to.

“Yamazaki believes that it is our social duty as a food company to provide emergency food to areas affected by large-scale disasters. During the Great Tohoku Earthquake in 2011, the Great Hanshin Earthquake, Chuetsu Earthquake in Niigata, Kumamoto Earthquake, Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake, and more, we have made every effort to supply and deliver relief food such as bread, rice balls, and beverages to those who had to evacuate. We will also continue to make efforts to improve this system so that we can fulfill our mission as a company who plays a role in the food supply of Japan.”
(Yamazaki Bakery website)

So, next time you’re in the baked goods section and spot a Lunch Pack, pick one up – not just because you’d be helping a company that helps people, but because they taste freaking awesome.

Source: J-Cast News, Yamazaki Baking, Matomebu,
Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!