Michelin chef collects donations for Ukraine with rice balls

© Kyodo News

The owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo distributed "onigiri" rice balls to donors Monday in a charity drive to support children in Ukraine suffering from the Russian invasion of the Eastern European country.

Yoshihiro Narisawa, 53, of the renowned two-star eatery in the capital's Minato Ward, handed rice balls wrapped in bamboo leaves to individuals who donated 1,000 yen ($8) or more at the restaurant. Evacuees from Ukraine also joined the drive by making rice balls.

The raised money will be sent to an emergency fund for Ukraine at the Japan Committee for UNICEF. "Something unimaginable is happening. I want to express Japan's support," Narisawa said.

Maryna Borodina, a 35-year-old language teacher from Ukraine who evacuated to Japan two weeks ago, made rice balls together with others involved in the project. "I want to help Ukraine even if only slightly," she said in Japanese.

Narisawa planned the fundraising activities with Hisato Hamada, 44, the founder and managing chef of the Wagyumafia beef restaurant chain, which has outlets in Japan and abroad.