Skip to content

The 2024 Noto Earthquake 5

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the March 4th issue of Jinja Shinpō included an article on the damage in Toyama Prefecture. This article was a solid page of text listing jinja, again by chief priest, and the damage to each jinja. Even so, it didn’t cover the whole of the prefecture — two areas were held over for a later issue.

A comparison between this article and the corresponding article for Ishikawa Prefecture makes the difference in impact starkly apparent. The Ishikawa article included a number of jinja stating “main sanctuary destroyed, offering hall destroyed, prayer hall destroyed, office destroyed, torii collapsed”. The Toyama article includes a jinja saying “a sanbō fell and broke”. (A sanbō is a stand on which offerings are placed, which is in turn placed on the tables called “an” before the kami.) It could well be expensive to replace the sanbō, particularly if it was lacquered, but that jinja is not going to need to run a major public appeal.

More fundamentally, the Toyama article looks like it might well be complete for the areas covered, and it is quite detailed. Not only does it mention fallen sanbō, it says how many of the pillars in a stone fence fell over, or how many panes of glass broke. In other words, about six weeks after the earthquake, jinja in Toyama Prefecture appear to have finished assessing the damage — and, in some cases, they may even have finished repairing it.

In Ishikawa Prefecture, on the other hand, the prefectural Jinjachō sent staff out last month to assess the damage in the worst hit areas, in the northern end of the Noto Peninsula. They will not have been able to make as detailed an assessment as that given for Toyama, but at least they should have been able to determine how many jinja have had their buildings destroyed. When a natural disaster is very large scale, it can take a long time to even grasp the extent of the damage.

Another article in the same issue, written by a member of the Diet, mentioned that some local authorities had said that subsidies for clearing away rubble were not available to religious corporations. This is based on the constitutional prohibition on state support for a religion. However, this is no longer the central government’s position, and so efforts are being made to get the local authorities to change their stance. The current position is that, as long as the same subsidies are available equally to all religions, it is constitutional. I think this is reasonable — after all, all religious corporations get tax breaks, which is another form of government support.

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.

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.