A simple bath makes a strong impression（入浴支援「ありがとう」）
The temporary bathhouse set up by the Ground Self-Defense Force on the grounds of an elementary school in Iwaki,?Fukushima?Prefecture, for victims of Typhoon No. 19 has closed for business.
Almost every day before heading home from Taira Daiyon Elementary School, third-grader Saki Kunii, 8, would go to the bathing facility. "Everyone was so nice, and I had fun every day," she said gratefully.
At the entrance to the temporary bathhouse administered by GSDF personnel, Saki would help by handing out number cards, cheerfully telling people, "Please take a number." She also wrote the number of people waiting to enter the bath on a whiteboard. As a victim herself, she came almost daily, and soon became the facility's icon.
When Camp Jinmachi in Higashine, Yamagata Prefecture, opened the facility on Nov. 9, the youngster said she wanted to help in some way. Thus began a sweet relationship.
She came to like sitting on the lap of Lpt. Airi?Otomo, 21, who allowed Saki to lovingly address her with the familiar "Airi-chan" as she let the youngster help out.
Saki's house in the city was flooded during the typhoon, and the bath became unusable. She cringed at using a bath other than the one she was accustomed to at home, but when she took a look at the temporary facility, she found the tub wider than she imagined, and fully enjoyed it.
"At the time of the disaster, she would seem afraid of rain, but now she really looks happy when she spends time with the personnel," said Saki's mother, Miyuki, 46, having seen the change in her daughter, whose mood brightened through her activities at the bathhouse.
When the period of support was nearing its end, Saki would look down and say, "I don't want to think about it." But she expressed her gratitude to the GSDF members who allowed her to take a bath and played with her. "I definitely want to see them again," Saki said.
（ Translated by The Japan News ）
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