Voices in Ishikawa Prefecture Urge Tourism After Noto Earthquake

Voices in Ishikawa Prefecture Urge Tourism After Noto Earthquake

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Higashichaya, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture
Picture: yoshihiro52 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
The Noto Earthquake is impacting businesses throughout Ishikawa Prefecture - even those that suffered little damage. Learn why local merchants, celebrities, and politicians are asking tourists to return to Kanazawa and the surrounding southern Ishikawa region.

Residents in Noto, Wajima, and other cities in Ishikawa Prefecture are still reeling from the devastating earthquake centered in Noto earlier this month. Beyond the quake damage, the region is also suffering a dramatic drop in tourism that’s weighing heavily on local businesses. Here’s why, as rescue and recovery efforts continue, politicians and commentators are urging domestic and inbound tourists to remember that southern Ishikawa Prefecture is still open for travel.

Quake recovery efforts continue

Picture: Yama / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

On January 1st, at 4:10pm, an earthquake of Seismic Activity Scale 7 (7.6 on the Magnitude scale) occurred on Japan’s Noto Peninsula. The event was larger than the Hanshin/Awaji earthquake of 1995, which was a Magnitude 7.3 event.

As of this writing, authorities have confirmed that some 232 people lost their lives in the Noto quake. Some 1,048 were injured. Current reports say almost 28,000 homes suffered damage.

Life is anything but normal for residents of towns like Noto and Wajima, where the damage was most severe. As of this writing, some 15,000 people continue to live in evacuation shelters, unable to return home.

With a long road to recovery still ahead, some families find themselves making hard decisions. In Wajima, parents said temporary goodbyes to some 2500 middle school students, who will live 100km away in Hakusan City to attend school while Wajima rebuilds.

Businesses dependent on tourism in Ishikawa Prefecture struggle

The magnificent torii gate in front of Kanazawa Station is a sightseeing spectacle in its own right. (Picture: kazukiatuko / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Outside of the damage caused by the earthquake, businesses across Ishikawa Prefecture say they’re struggling as tourism dries up. Even businesses in areas unaffected or minimally impacted say they’re seeing waves of cancellations.

In tourist magnet Kanazawa, which is 120km south of Noto, the streets of Higashichaya, a popular Edo era-style shopping district, are noticeably less crowded. One vendor, a tea shop owner in Higashichaya, says that he wants to keep going even though business is down.

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“Tough times are tough. But we can only do what we can do right now, and that’s showing sympathy and being present for the people here,” said owner Satou Isao.

Another man, who volunteers as a tour guide, says he’s taken aback by the “drastic decline” in tourism.

Picture: ANN

“We’d be happy just seeing visitors. It would revitalize the area.”

On a recent radio broadcast on the Hokuriku Broadcast Network, which serves Ishikawa Prefecture, announcer Tanikawa Keiichi also issued calls for tourists to return to less-impacted areas. He noted that, while areas like Noto are still off-limits for tourists, Kanazawa suffered minimal damage and there’s little risk to travelers. Most businesses in Kanazawa and the surrounding area in southern Ishikawa Prefecture are open and ready to serve their customers.

Seeing the sights in Ishikawa Prefecture

Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture
Picture: 北村笑店 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Part of the problem is a communication issue. Noto and surrounding towns are themselves tourist hot spots, known for their hot springs and spectacular views of Toyama Bay and the Sea of Japan. But due to the devastating damage there, officials are asking people to stay clear until recovery efforts conclude.

On his X (formerly Twitter) social media account, Ishikawa Prefecture governor Hase Hiroshi also urged visitors to come to Kanazawa. He shared a map showing that the southern part of Ishikawa Prefecture, the Kaga Region, is safe for travel. That includes any city or town south of Kanazawa.

はせ浩(馳浩)石川県知事 on Twitter: “「能登には来ないで」「でも石川県には来て」というお願いで混乱された方は、こちらの画像をご覧ください。石川県は南北に約200kmあり、大きく分けて能登地方と加賀地方に分かれています。加賀地方は新幹線や飛行機の交通インフラもほぼ通常通りです。… https://t.co/EAoFnWlzxE / Twitter”

「能登には来ないで」「でも石川県には来て」というお願いで混乱された方は、こちらの画像をご覧ください。石川県は南北に約200kmあり、大きく分けて能登地方と加賀地方に分かれています。加賀地方は新幹線や飛行機の交通インフラもほぼ通常通りです。… https://t.co/EAoFnWlzxE

So where can you go in southern Ishikawa Prefecture? The site Spoon & Tamago has a great English language guide that they’ve updated in light of the Noto Earthquake. Attractions such as Higashichaya, the Kenrokuen Gardens, and Natadera Temple await visitors seeking a taste of Japan outside of Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka. There’s also the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which one company recently christened the most Instagrammable spot in Ishikawa Prefecture. The region is also known as a premier location for sake (日本酒; nihonshu) and is home to some wonderful breweries.

If you’re planning travel to Japan in the next few months, consider a trip to Kanazawa and southern Ishikawa Prefecture. The region could use your support – now more than ever.

Sources

「石川県へ、ぜひ旅行に来てほしい。金沢市は、ほぼ普段通りの生活」能登半島地震取材の地元局アナが呼びかけ. Nippon Housou

地震の被害は限定的だが…「観光客の激減」に悩む金沢市 人気の観光スポット『ひがし茶屋街』もにぎわい見られず 現地からは『応援する気持ちで来ていただきたい』の声も. MBS News

住宅被害2万7900戸に 能登町で5千戸 安否不明者1人増. Hokkoku Shimbun

能登半島地震の特徴と原因は?最大震度7の揺れと津波(随時更新). NHK News Web

輪島市の中学生約250人が集団避難…母が“涙の別れ” 能登地震. ANN

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Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

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