Skip to content

The 2024 Noto Earthquake 3

The response to the Noto Peninsula Earthquake on January 1st continues, and it is still a common subject on the news. People have started to move into the medium-term temporary housing that the state builds after a major earthquake, but a significant number (over 10,000) are still in evacuation centres. Given that the area was remote to start with, and considering the damage to the routes into it, it is not clear how much more quickly they could have been helped. However, the preoccupation of the central government with a funding scandal has not helped. (At least 25% of the parliamentarians belonging to the ruling party are involved, so it is a big scandal.) Here, I will report on a couple of Shinto-related things.

First, the Ishikawa Prefectural Jinjachō has put up a web page with photographs of the damage to jinja. This is only partial — not every damaged jinja has a photograph — but it should give you an idea of what has happened. The images are split by section within the Jinjachō, which roughly corresponds to municipalities, and the names are given in centred bold characters. Automatic translation might be able to handle it these days, but just in case, these are the areas, starting from the top.

Hakui: This is towards the southern edge of the seriously affected region.

Kawakita (or possibly Kahoku): This is south of Hakui.

Kanazawa: Further south, and the area around the largest city in Ishikawa. The city suffered relatively minor damage, and is the base of operations for volunteers going to the more badly affected areas.

Nanao-Kashima: This is to the north of Hakui, in the centre of the peninsula and into the badly affected region.

Suzu: This is at the north end of the peninsula, and one of the worst affected areas.

Hōchi: South of Suzu and north of Nanao, and another badly affected area.

Wajima: Southwest of Suzu, next to Hōchi. Another badly affected area.

The next thing I want to mention is a prayer for recovery. This was held in Hakui, by the chief priest of the jinja that has been designated as the Prefectural Jinjachō’s base for its recovery efforts. The ceremony was held at one of the jinja he is responsible for, Ōnamochi Kataishi Jinja (Stone in the Shape of Ōnamuchi (Ōkuninushi) Jinja).

According to the February 12th issue of Jinja Shinpō, the ceremony was held on January 21st, and the immediate trigger was the chief priest’s, Revd Miyatani’s, frustration at not being able to do anything. Even though he was in charge of the Jinjachō’s recovery efforts, it was not possible to get to the badly affected regions as the roads were blocked, and so he was very limited in the actions he could take. He says that he suddenly realised that this was exactly when a priest should pray, and so organised the ceremony.

It was held in the precincts of the jinja, in front of the “Earthquake Stone”. They made the normal offerings and recited the Ōharaëkotoba (the oldest extant purification prayer, traditionally recited after disasters), before Revd Miyatani read out a formal prayer he had written for the occasion, praying for an end to the aftershocks, swift recovery, and the safety of all those involved in the recovery efforts. Next, he purified the stone from all four directions, before he and the people in attendance all offered tamagushi.

It is worth noting that the “Earthquake Stone” is not linked to any particular kami, and simply referred to as the “Earthquake Stone”, 「地震石」with quotation marks, in the article. There are stories about the stone suppressing earthquakes, but the ceremony seems to have been for the stone, not for a particular kami.

The roads have since opened up, so I would think that Revd Miyatani is busy now. The next ceremonies of this sort are likely to happen in a few months, when the recovery has progressed enough for people to step back from the immediate issues.

I have a Patreon, where people join as paid members to receive an in-depth essay on some aspect of Shinto every month, or as free members to receive notifications of updates to this blog. If that sounds interesting to you, please take a look.

1 thought on “The 2024 Noto Earthquake 3”

  1. Some of these shrines are linked to Edo period maritime trade and contain Ainu religious artifacts bestowed in Hokkaido and Sakhalin. I wrote about it for JJRS in 2020. I hope they are able to find the means to rebuild.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.