Report on the Damage to Soto Zen Sect Temples in Ishikawa Prefecture Due to the Noto Peninsula Earthquake on January 1, 6th year of Reiwa (2024)

Local Disaster Response Headquarters (Soto Zen Sect Ishikawa Prefecture Office)
Director: Chijyo Yashiki
March 28, 6th year of Reiwa (2024)

We express our heartfelt condolences to everyone affected by the Noto Peninsula earthquake in the 6th year of Reiwa.

On January 1, 6th year of Reiwa, at 4:06 p.m., an earthquake with a seismic intensity of 5 strong occurred with its epicenter on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. Subsequently, at 4:10 p.m., an earthquake with a seismic intensity of 7 occurred. Over the following week, earthquakes with a seismic intensity of 5 strong were observed seven times. The significant damage, including collapsed houses, landslides, tsunamis, and fires, resulted in over 200 deaths.

Within the prefectural temples of the Soto Sect, the temples in the 5th to 8th districts of the Noto region (71 temples) experienced seismic intensities of 6 or 7, while the temples in the 1st to 4th districts of the Kaga region (63 temples) were hit by a seismic intensity of 5 strong. Most of the temples suffered significant damage.

The Ishikawa Prefectural Office of the Soto Zen Sect attempted to confirm the damage situation by phone. However, communication via telephone or email was disrupted with the temples in the Noto area, and due to road fractures, it was impossible to travel to the area, which prolonged the situation assessment. On January 6, a local response headquarters was established. Prioritizing the confirmation of human lives, we continued to confirm the situation when communication was restored. On January 8, the safety of all the priests and their families was confirmed. Since then, we have been engaged in the delivery of support supplies to evacuation centers such as Wajima City and Suzu City and in cooking activities, with the support and cooperation of the Soto Sect Headquarters, various religious organizations inside and outside the prefecture, and other organizations. We also made efforts to understand the situation at each temple. The temples in the 1st to 4th districts of the Kaga region were confirmed by the head priests of each district who directly visited each temple. However, for the temples in the 5th to 8th districts of the Noto region, where significant damage was expected, we urgently requested an investigation by an architect. Investigations were conducted on January 22nd and 23rd, February 9th and 10th, and 24th, over five days. We will now report the confirmed disaster situation on our website.

Currently, out of the 134 temples in the prefecture, 110 temples have suffered damage to their main halls, living quarters, or main gates. Particularly in the temples in the 5th to 8th districts of the Noto region, the damage is extensive. There are 15 temples in the prefecture where the main halls have completely collapsed, and 25 temples where the main halls have been partially destroyed. The prospects for recovery are still unclear. Most of the head priests and their families of the severely damaged temples are living in evacuation centers in the region or in Kanazawa City. During the day, they are engaged in tidying up the temples and assisting in the evacuation centers.

Since the Noto Peninsula was hit by a seismic intensity of 6 strong on March 25, 2007, in Wajima City, Nanao City, and Anamizu Town, and further intensified by frequent earthquakes starting in 2020, a seismic intensity of 5 weak occurred in Suzu City on September 16, 2021, a seismic intensity of 6 weak occurred on June 19, 2022, and a seismic intensity of 6 strong occurred on May 5, 2023. Despite repeated repairs and seismic reinforcement of buildings such as the main halls, which have stood for hundreds of years, the damage from this earthquake has made the situation significantly more severe. In some parts of Kanazawa City, it is impossible to reside due to the liquefaction of the land. In the Noto region, electricity and water are still unavailable. Support is most needed for the daily lives and health maintenance of the local residents, temple members, and head priests' families.

被災寺院一覧 (List of Damaged Temples)

Towards the Recovery of the Disaster Areas and Temples

Two months have passed since the disaster, and many people are still without electricity and water. Despite this, many of those affected are making earnest efforts to move forward little by little toward recovery.

Among the 134 temples in Ishikawa Prefecture, considerable damage has occurred, and efforts are currently underway for recovery. In the severely affected Noto region, the cleaning of the main halls and living quarters has not yet been completed. Regarding the accessible temples, we are collaborating with the head priests of the prefecture's temples and various Soto Sect organizations to provide support activities such as the preservation of the main statues, Buddhist instruments, and memorial tablets, as well as the removal of debris and garbage from the temple grounds.

As for the challenges of temple reconstruction, considering the difficulty of receiving subsidies from the government for religious corporation facilities, and that the members and local residents are similarly severely affected, and that some have no choice but to leave the area, it is anticipated that we may not be able to receive support from public funds or donations from the members in the future. However, for the sake of the remaining temple members and the local community's recovery, we are determined to make endless efforts for the reconstruction of the temples as a place of spiritual refuge.

Until now, each temple has built a history and culture together with the local community through events such as New Year's prayers, Obon, Higan, funerals, ancestral worship, and unique Buddhist events. The temples in Ishikawa Prefecture, led by the Soji-ji Temple So-in in Wajima's Monzen-cho, Youko-ji Temple in Hakui City, and Daijyo-ji Temple in Kanazawa City, have inherited the history of the Soto Sect's origin, built the foundation of Zen teachings, and continued to disseminate them to the world.

Therefore, together with the local community and temple members, we would like to ask for your support for the recovery of the disaster areas and temples, so that we can overcome this hardship, restore a daily life with peace of mind, and pass on the local culture and history as a place of spiritual refuge. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Local Disaster Response Headquarters (Soto Zen Sect Ishikawa Prefecture Office Ishikawa)

Address : 11 Sakai-cho I, Hakui City, Ishikawa Prefecture, 925-0074, located inside Youkouji Temple
Phone/FAX : +81-767-23-4534
E-mail : soutou50@gmail.com

【Soto Sect Donation Remittance Destination】

Postal transfer:00190-2-604062
Account Name: Soto Zen Donation Remittance Destination

Financial institution (code) : Japan Post Bank (9900)
Branch name (branch number) : 019 branch (019)
Deposit type : Current
account number : 0604062

Donations received will be distributed to support the affected areas of the Noto Peninsula earthquake and the affected temples of the Soto Zen sect in the prefecture, according to the extent of the damage.