Miyagi restaurant refuses to accept money from customers after tsunami warning evacuation

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It is company policy to place human life above all else.

Donkey Bikkuri is a popular chain of family restaurants, eating establishments that fall somewhere between fast food and bar-grill type businesses. With a name that means “surprised donkey,” the buildings typically have wacky decor resembling a ramshackle shack and a generally light-hearted vibe. However, there is one thing the channel takes very seriously.

Around midnight on the evening of January 15, many late-night diners were served at Bikkuri Donkey in Tagajo City, Miyagi Prefecture. At around 12:15 p.m., a tsunami warning was issued for the area due to the massive volcanic eruption near Tonga, and the restaurant ordered all customers to leave immediately.

▼ The Bikkuri donkey in Tagajo

According to reports, the staff wanted all customers to leave as soon as possible and announced that no one needed to pay for their food. Even when diners insisted on paying, the staff refused them and told them to get to safety immediately.

After the tsunami warning was lifted, a customer said on Twitter that he had returned to the store to try to pay for his meal the night before, only to be politely declined again. Staff said it was unnecessary because they were just following company policy to value human life above all else.

Bikkuri Donkey’s owning company, Aleph, spoke to the media and confirmed the company’s policy to evacuate immediately during tsunami warnings. There is no official rule regarding payment, but they said they support the Tagajo store’s decision in this case.

It’s no surprise that Tagajo, in particular, takes tsunami warnings very seriously. On March 11, 2011, the coastal city was directly in the path of one of the most destructive waves in recent history.

▼ Images taken from a rooftop in Tagajo on March 11, 2011. (Warning: the destruction in the video can be painful for some people)

Even despite this place’s own experiences with disasters, netizens felt they were going above and beyond by putting human life above money.

“That’s how it should be! I knew a place that was trying to pay everyone’s bills as a fire alarm went off.
“Staff were great taking care of everyone and making sure they got out safely first.”
“A restaurant that takes my safety into account is a restaurant where I want to eat.”
“I used to live in that area and the response from those people made me proud to be from there.”
“It is important that customers do not make a fuss in this situation so that staff can also evacuate quickly.”
“I stopped going to Bikkuri Donkey after my kids grew up, but now I think I’ll start again.”
“In 2011, the road the restaurant was on was completely under water. This memory is not going away.

Speaking of the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, at that time Tonga, of all the countries in the world, would have donated most of its own GDP to relief efforts in Japan. Now, the Japanese government has already responded to a request for assistance from the Tonga government and is currently assessing what is needed and how best to achieve it. They also pledged to work with Australia and New Zealand to advance reconstruction efforts.

For those living in Japan who also wish to reciprocate, the Tongan Embassy in Tokyo posts regular updates on its Twitter account and would be a good reference for reliable support channels once they have been confirmed.

And any leftover money from the donation could be well spent on a delicious Hamburg steak from Bikkuri Donkey. Humanity aside, they were also named the third best restaurant chain in Japan in a 2014 survey.

Source: Maidona News, J-Cast News, Mainichi Shimbun, Toshi Tomie No blog
Top image: Photos © SoraNews24
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