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Peace event in Tokyo to offer glimpse of wartime life through substitute food

TOKYO -- An event to commemorate a local peace day in the Tokyo suburban city of Musashino will offer a wartime substitute food called "suiton" and an air raid survivor will talk to visitors, so that children and others can get a feel for the tough life people went through during World War II and think about the importance of peace.

The event, organized by the Musashino Municipal Government and peace groups, will be held at Enmeiji Temple in the city on Nov. 17, a week before the city marks its "day of peace." On Nov. 24, 1944, the municipality underwent an air raid by the U.S. forces targeting a local factory of Nakajima Aircraft Co., a prominent Japanese fighter aircraft maker. Many residents were killed in the attack, which was one of the first air raids on the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Suiton, a kind of soup made with flour dumplings, was often consumed in place of rice, Japan's staple food, which was getting scarce as the war intensified. Even flour rations distributed by the national government decreased as the battle dragged on, and kelp and wakame seaweed powders were used instead.

In the Nov. 17 event, 100 bowls of suiton in soy sauce flavor will be prepared from 11 a.m. through 1 p.m., using a large pot with a diameter of approximately 80 centimeters. The food will be served by air raid survivors and members of "Mikazuki Kodomo Shokudo," a restaurant for children that offers free meals for local kids.

At the gathering, Yoshie Shimazu, 85, a resident of the city, will talk about her own experience of surviving air raids. She went through her first raid when she was in the fifth grade of elementary school. In another raid the following year, she lost her home and was made to help collect dead bodies. The organizers hope that children will think of life during the war as they eat the soup and listen to her story.

For inquiries, call the civil activities promotion department of the city on 0422-60-1829 in Japanese.

(Japanese original by Satoru Yamamoto, Musashino Resident Bureau)

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