Food tastes better when you fix it yourself.
Story and photography by Jack Brockley
It’s one of those days when the clouds are clearly winning the game of hide-and-seek against the sun. Yet, children are determined to have fun, rushing into Toshimaen Amusement Park in Nerima, Japan. Toddlers climb aboard Thomas the Tank Engine for a quick ride. Boys and girls pose to please parents in Pokemon’s garden. And families look for the best pig, horse or carriage on the 110-year-old German-made El Dorado Carousel.
One group of children, however, has a different destination in mind. They’re headed for a cooking class with the Kiwanis family.
“For many years, the Tokyo Kiwanis Club has been known for its generous contributions,” says Yuji Suzuki. “Lately, there’s been an interest among members to do more service.”
As the club’s 2015-16 project committee chair, Suzuki learned that there is a growing number of children eating at home alone, due to rising divorce rates, more mothers working away from home and other situations. With this information, he proposed a cooking class for kids. So on this cloudy Sunday morning, 35 boys and girls strap on Kiwanis aprons at the 2nd annual Kiwanis cooking class. Toshimaen Chef Oiwa is on hand to teach the proper way to prepare ginger pork and miso soup. He’s assisted by Past Secretary Shoichi Kano along with other Tokyo Kiwanians, Circle K members from Musashino University and prospective recruits for a prospective CKI club at Rikkyo University.
As pork slices sizzle in pans, the Kiwanis-family volunteers lend advice, suggesting a more comfortable way to hold tongs, expressing a warning to turn the meat and doling out words of praise. Afterward, everyone sits down to enjoy the pork and miso soup of their labors.
“This is my first time at this event,” says Circle K member Kaho Kojima, who has served beside the Tokyo Kiwanis Club before, sewing hospital dolls. “All the kids are smiling, and they obviously enjoy eating the dishes they fixed.”
One boy, asked about his experience, drains a bowl of soup and says he enjoyed it very much, especially eating together. Asked about his favorite food of the day, he replies, “Miso soup.” Three empty bowls stacked in front of him confirm his answer.
This story originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Kiwanis magazine.