KUMAMOTO--A manga artist found herself in the soup after evacuating following the Kumamoto earthquakes in April 2016.

And now Ami Uozumi has published an autobiographical manga that focuses on improvised meals and how to cook them in the dark days following a disaster.

Uozumi in her 30s and her roommate of the same generation were humbled when other quake-affected people shared warm meals with them, and the pair eventually came up with unique ideas of how to cook without water or gas.

The essay manga “Hisaimeshi: Kumamoto yori” (Meals for the disaster-affected: from Kumamoto) covers the cartoonist's experiences during the 10 days following the first of the pair of earthquakes that struck her neighborhood.

Uozumi and her female roommate, Den-chan, live in the city’s Chuo Ward. After the earthquakes in April last year, the pair (and their cat) had to take shelter in a park and at a community center. They also had to live in their apartment when there was no water supply.

She portrays her real-life episodes in the same way she experienced them.

After the main shock in the series of the earthquakes, the pair had to spend the night at a community center. The next morning, an unfamiliar woman offered instant miso soup in paper cups.

“It tasted unbelievably good,” Uozumi said. “The warmth of their hearts really hit me.”

A man they met in a parking lot of their evacuation destination brought retort-pouched “rafute” simmered pork from his home and told them to join other evacuees to share the warm specialty from Okinawa Prefecture.

Thrown in extraordinary circumstances where they were scared of aftershocks and couldn’t take a bath, warm food gave the pair comfort.

“I was happy to see that people can care about each other in a difficult situation,” she recalled.

In May last year, Uozumi heard from an editor in Tokyo that less and less media attention was being given to the Kumamoto earthquakes. The cartoonist decided to record her own experiences because she felt sad about the declining media attention in spite of the fact that there were many people out there still living in difficult conditions.

The artist started working on her manga in late May and publishing the series on the Internet in August. Uozumi placed those meals at the core of her work, calling them “hisaimeshi.”

She also incorporates smart tips and creative ideas she learned from her own disaster experiences in the manga.

While the water was cut off, she lined a frying pan with a sheet of aluminum foil to reduce dish-washing, soaked pasta in water before heating it up using a portable gas stove, and cut up a milk carton to use as a cutting board.

“We never know when and where earthquakes happen,” Uozumi said. “I want people to make use of (my manga) to prepare for the next disaster.”

The artist has also included a section at the end of the manga to feature paper plates, plastic wraps and other items that came in handy.

When Uozumi was working on a scene showing how she desperately struggled to stand up in her pitch-black apartment during a long-lasting shake caused by the main shock, she experienced violent palpitations.

“I realized how much I was scared at that time better than I did then,” Uozumi said.

She suffered from sickness three months after the earthquakes. But as the manga series went on, she started to get more and more responses from readers and was encouraged by a message from a survivor of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake who was looking forward to reading more episodes.

“Hisaimeshi” ended after seven episodes, with the series published as a book late last year.

“It was the first time for me to feel this strongly that I must be sincere about my work,” the cartoonist added. “I felt as if it went out of my hands and became something public.”

Published by MAG Garden Corp., “Hisaimeshi” is available for 824 yen ($7.40), tax exclusive, at bookstores nationwide.