Mobile Laundries Bring Relief to Japan’s Quake-Hit Areas; Vital Service Helps to Ease Stress, Prevent Ill

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A laundry truck in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Sunday

WAJIMA, Ishikawa — Mobile laundries are helping survivors of the Noto Peninsula Earthquake wash their clothes, providing a vital service in areas where running water has still not been restored.

A truck arrived Sunday at a golf course in the Monzenmachitoge district of Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. Operated by Washhouse Co., a laundromat business based in Miyazaki, the truck was dispatched at the request of the Wajima city government.

It is operating in cooperation with entities including the Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Ministry and the Ishikawa prefectural government.

The vehicle is equipped with six washer-dryers, and one complete cycle takes about an hour.

Monzenmachitoge has not had running water since the earthquake struck on Jan. 1, forcing many residents to travel to Kanazawa and other areas every weekend to do their laundry. Such trips can take several hours one way, a significant burden for people affected by the disaster.

All the available slots for using the truck were filled immediately after it started operating at 10 a.m. on Sunday, according to the company.

“ I haven’t been able to do my laundry since the earthquake, and I’m very grateful for this service,” one person said. “I’m going to move from a community center to a secondary shelter, so I’m glad to be able to do my laundry before I go.”

Affected people can use the washer-dryers free of charge through Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In Suzu, another Ishikawa city severely affected by the Noto quake, a mobile laundry began operation on Jan. 24 at an elementary school serving as an evacuation shelter.

Nine front-loading washer-dryers are housed inside a mobile container operated by Yamamoto Express Inc., a carrying company based in Yabu, Hyogo Prefecture.

“I was washing my clothes by hand using rainwater. I’m grateful to be able to do laundry in a machine,” said a 60-year-old part-time worker.

Yamamoto Express President Yosuke Yamamoto said: “We want [people affected by the quake] to feel less stressed, even if it’s just a little, and smile. We’re ready to provide as much support as we can, without setting a specific end date [for the service].”

Toyoko Sanjo, director of Suzu city’s health promotion center, said, “It’s important to keep [clothes] clean to prevent infection, so we’re very grateful for this help.”

The mobile container laundry can be used free of charge and will be in operation for the foreseeable future. Reservations are accepted from 7 a.m. and will stop when all the slots are filled for the day.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People use washing machines inside a mobile container in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Jan. 25.