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No.238 (6/21/13)

Steak House Yoshino is Back!

By Mayu Higashi
Guest Writer

Around 16:00 on March 10, 2013, Ms. Tomo Oyamada walked through the hallway from her house to her restaurant, Steak House Yoshino, to prepare opening up for business. She opened the back door to the restaurant to find it totally covered with thick, black smoke. She rushed to tell her family to evacuate from the house, and in the meantime the fire blazed out of control with smoke filling the restaurant and their adjacent house. “We've lost everything in an instant. We couldn't bring out anything from the house even a car key or a wallet... We just had to watch our house and restaurant go up in flames,” said Tomo. According to the investigation, the official cause of the fire was the corrosion of wires.

“I felt so terrible and it hurt so much emotionally that I couldn't think about anything, let alone the future.” She couldn't eat anything and couldn't get any sleep that night. The next morning, she was stricken with sorrow, sitting in a cold temporary house, when she heard someone knocking at the door. It was Ms. Tricia Reams, who greeted her with a warm “Ohayoo Gozaymaaas!” and a smile. She brought with her a wonderful breakfast and warm clothes. Tricia and the Oyamada family have known each other for a long time and she visited the Oyamada family almost every day after that to bring them meals and to provide them comfort and assistance.

Tricia was not the only American who reached out to help the Oyamada family, a lot of Americans visited to cheer them up. Tomo has a long history with Misawa AB and has been helping out with Japanese culture classes on the base for over 30 years for free. Once people heard about the tragic news, Tomo received many phone calls and letters from all over the base. Ms. Janice Barnes, the Director of the Airman and Family Readiness Center , found out that there were many people on the base were looking for a way to make a donation to help the Oyamada family, but did not know how to get them the money. While Ms. Barnes could not officially set up a collection site at the Airman and Family Readiness Center , she devoted her personal time to create a donation website where people could log on and donate their money. Janice said that “Tomo-san is one of the most generous and kind people I have ever met. Yes, it did break my heart that her business and home burned down. More than that, though, was just the thought of someone who gives so much and is suffering. I couldn't stand to see it. Then, the day after the fire, she called the office to say that she was worried she might not be able to volunteer for us because of what was going on. Wow, in the middle of a crisis, she was still thinking about Americans at the base and the promises she had made. We did reassure her that she needed to take care of herself and her family, but it seemed there needed to be more to do. ” Janice collected over $2100 in total through her website with the help from people who spread the word on Facebook, emails, and word of mouth.

“It was such a small restaurant but since so many people supported and encouraged us it motivated us to think about reopening the restaurant.”

The Oyamada family remodeled a house across the street from their original restaurant and opened this past Thursday, 13 Jun 2013. Steak House Yoshino is a family-run restaurant owned by the Oyamada Family and it's been popular among local Japanese and Americans since 1975. Thanks to the support from the many Americans like Ms. Reams and Ms. Barnes, Steak House Yoshino, which burned down last March is now reopened and Tomo is back on base helping Americans learn about Japanese culture.

The new restaurant is located across the street from the old Steak House Yoshino's, but if you don't know how to get there here are the directions: Go out from the main gate and take a right at the second traffic light. Then turn right at your fourth traffic light on Route 8. Go straight past white pole road and you will go down a hill but stay left at the fork. If you go right on the fork you will go toward Aomori on Route 8. You will drive up a slight slope down a narrow street into what looks like a housing area. Watch on your right for a red house with a sign on the outside and you will find Steak House Yoshino. They are open from 17:00 to 21:00 and last order is 20:00. They are closed on every Tuesday and anyone under 12 years old is not permitted. For more information or to make a reservation, please call 0176-53-5649.

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