Food

Japanese Restaurant Gives Free Food to Hungry Students Who Wash Dishes

A small restaurant in Japan believes that young people should not go hungry, so it is giving free food to those who can’t pay for it.

The generous establishment, which is a franchise of the popular Gyoza No Ohsho food chain, is run by a kind soul by the name of Sadahiro Inoue.

Considered a local hero in Kyoto City’s Kamigyo Ward,  Inoue has made his restaurant quite popular among the students of surrounding schools, including Kyoto and Doshisha universities, because of the unique sign posted next to the entrance door, which states:

“People without money for food can eat for free until they’re full. However, they have to wash dishes for 30 minutes after the meal. Students over 18 years old only.”

In an interview with Bengoshi.com (via SoraNews24), Inoue revealed that he doesn’t even mind whether the hungry student washed dishes or not. He explained that merely being willing to do it in exchange for food is enough for him.  

He shared that while having three customers wash dishes for the day is already considered busy, the restaurant has had days when up to eight people are there willing to scrub some plates and utensils for food.

As if that’s not generous enough, the restaurant also freely gives away leftovers to those who want them.  To explain the reasoning behind such attitude, Inoue says that: “of the basic necessities in life, food is the most important… students need to be able to study hard to become proper people.”

If the concept is a bit difficult to grasp for some, Inoue’s background might offer some clarity. When he was in his early 20s, Inoue found it difficult to make ends meet as a young husband and a new father. There were times back then when he experienced not having enough money to buy food for himself.

During one of those challenging times, an older acquaintance invited him to eat and paid for his lunch. While the gesture was probably not much of a big deal to the person who fed him at the time, for Inoue, it totally changed his perspective.

“I remember this person’s face and name as if they were my own child,” he said.

He never forgot the feeling of being energized after having his fill of meats and stews. He recalled how he was motivated to push on by that single gesture.

A few years later, at age 23, Inoue found himself working at a Gyoza No Ohsho. Through hard work, he was eventually promoted to manager and worked at several branches. Later on, he was able to save up enough to buy his own franchise.

As he was climbing the ladders of success, Inoue brought with him the special memory of that one magical lunch.

However, when he was finally successful enough to be able to return the favor, he discovered that the person had already passed.

“That person is no longer in this world,” said Inoue, “so I will never be able to repay them.”

So he devised a way to use his business as a means to help the younger generation in the same manner that he had been helped before.

“In this world people think everyone ought to take care of their own children. Well, I take care of other people’s children. And I believe that in doing so, that virtue will return to take care of my child someday. Also in doing so, the world just gets a little better.”

Inoue, who is now 67, has been helping students with free food for decades and plans to continue the good deed.

He noted that there would be instances when a former student will pay him a visit to say hello.

One particular student, he shared, who used to wash dishes to get free food, has now become a successful surgeon.

“This doctor guy says, ‘Sir, if you ever have money problems you can come see me for free.’ But I don’t need thanks like that,” the hero humbly stated.


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