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Noto Peninsula Earthquake: Famous Market and Manga Museum Destroyed

The fire that followed the Noto Peninsula earthquake destroyed over 200 buildings, engulfing the Wajima Morning Market and the Go Nagai Wonderland Museum.



The Wajima Morning Market was destroyed by the fire that followed the Noto Peninsula Earthquake. Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, January 5. (©Sankei by Shigeru Amari)

The Earthquake Research Institute (ERI) of Tokyo University has published the results of its field survey on the January 1 earthquake in the Noto Peninsula. The strongest tremors recorded a maximum seismic intensity of 7 on the Japanese scale.

The Wajima Morning Market, a popular tourist attraction, was destroyed in the quake. The loss of one of Japan's most enduring morning markets highlights the extent of the earthquake's devastation. 

Fire consumes the Wajima Morning Market at around 1 am on January 2. (Provided by Tatsuo Konishi)

Widespread Uplift

Experts from Okayama University joined ERI researchers in the survey, which began on January 2, a day after the earthquake. The team surveyed the coastal topography of the northern Noto Peninsula, southwest of the earthquake's epicenter. 

According to its survey, the team observed the most significant uplift at Kaiso fishing port in Wajima. Ground in the area rose to an estimated 3.9 meters (12.8 feet). The uplift exceeded three meters at several points within a four-kilometer stretch of coastline near the port. In addition, the team confirmed that the shoreline shifted approximately 250 meters (820 feet) on a beach near the port due to the uplift. 

At Akasaki fishing port in Shika, although the uplift only reached 0.25 meters (0.82 feet), a tsunami damaged port facilities. Based on traces left on the outer wall of a warehouse, the team estimated the tsunami was approximately 4.2 meters (13.8 feet). 

Areas that saw considerable coastal uplift sustained no significant tsunami damage. Conversely, areas where the ground rose less sustained more damage. 

Osawa fishing port in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. Professor Koshun Yamaoka explains that the area, once underwater (center), is now visible due to uplift. January 6. (©Kyodo)

Wajima Morning Market in Ruins

After the earthquake, a massive fire broke out at the Wajima Morning Market.

Worried about his favorite shop, one man sheltering at an evacuation center visited the market site on January 3. But what he found was debris and charred remains of the street. "It looks like a war zone," he said.

"I used to set up my tent using the hooks on the ground here. There was a whole line of tents, stretching all the way over there," he reflected, pointing off into the distance.  


Asahioka is an unemployed resident of Fugeshi, adjacent to Kawai in Wajima, where the morning market once stood. He came to see the market from Fugeshi Elementary School, where he had evacuated. 

A morning market regular, Asahioka would visit his favorite fishmonger and ask the owner to send fish to his sister in Nagano Prefecture. Locals and tourists would throng the street, lined with various stores selling fish, vegetables, and folk crafts. 

The fire left a trail of destruction in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. (©Sankei by Shigeru Amari)

New Year's Day

On the afternoon of January 1, Asahioka had just returned from shopping. He was about to unload his groceries from the car when the earthquake struck. Thrown off balance, he fell and was unable to stand up due to an issue with his legs. Within 30 seconds, the house across the street had collapsed with a loud crash. "There was no time to escape," he recalled. 

Everyone in the neighborhood knew each other. Three of Asahioka's acquaintances were buried alive. From the elementary school where he had evacuated, he could see the fire at the morning market. He could even hear occasional explosions as the initially small fire spread rapidly.

"My grandmother told me that there had been a similar fire in the past," Asahioka muttered, staring at the charred ruin. Wajima had suffered a major fire in 1910. "It really does look just like a war zone. It's just awful." 

'Unbearably Sad'

On January 3, it emerged that the Go Nagai Wonderland Museum, a museum memorial dedicated to Wajima-born manga artist Go Nagai, had burned down. Many fans took to social media to express their grief. "What a terrible shame," read one comment, while another user wrote, "This is unbearably sad." 

The Go Nagai Wonderland Museum was ravaged by fire. Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, January 3. (©Kan Emori)

A fan on X (formerly Twitter) commented, "This hurts so much. I wanted to visit this place at least once." Another said, "I would love to visit again when they rebuild it." Users also posted photos of the museum before it burned down.

The museum, which opened in 2009, exhibited original drawings from Nagai's masterpieces, such as Mazinger Z and Devilman. Life-size Devilman figures were also on display. It was among Wajima's most popular tourist attractions. 

However, because the museum was located in the middle of Wajima Morning Market, it was also consumed by the fire. Reports confirmed that over 200 buildings were lost in the fire.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Authors: The Sankei Shimbun and Ai Hashimoto


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