The Shinohara Heroes to the Rescue in the Aftermath of the Ishikawa Earthquake!

Shawn Lawlor

By: Shawn Lawlor

Managing Director, Canada Wood Japan/COFI Japan

Shinohara Team in front of the bath house

Japan ushered in the New Year with a tragic and all too familiar start as a magnitude 7.6 tremblor hit the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. The Coastal area on the Japan sea side was hit on January 1st with the most powerful earthquake and tsunami since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. As many of the affected villages are remote with limited access due to compromised infrastructure and heavy snow conditions, the full extent of the damage is not yet fully known. But by any measure it will be significant. Thus far we know that 233 people have perished in the disaster. Currently an estimated 15,600 residents are living in temporary shelters. Roads and infrastructure were badly damaged and 50,000 homes still have no running water. A total of 15 ports in Ishikawa have been rendered unusable as the powerful quake physically elevated and expanded the coastline out to sea. An estimated 35,000 to 50,000 homes were reportedly damaged by the quake and of these a range of between 5,000 to 20,000 homes are thought to be completely destroyed.

But despite this devastation, we see the spirit of resilience and determination to persevere. In perhaps a fortuitous event, a longtime friend of Canada, Mr. Yuichiro Shinohara, just happened to be in the region visiting relatives over the New Year’s break. Although he and his relatives were safe, the surrounding community was not as lucky. Shinohara san quickly jumped into action and met with local officials to see what assistance was needed. Many affected residents were concerned about snow and water damage to their homes and contents as a result of broken roofs. Another immediate concern was the lack of running water and facilities for bathing as many residents had to go many days without the ability to take a shower or bath.

Shinohara san then mobilized his construction team at Shinohara Shoten to come up from Tokyo to help out. Within days the Shinohara team were busy wrapping up roof damaged homes with protective blue tarps and building a temporary public bath to bring relief to local residents. Today the bath house is up and running and the Shinohara team have affixed protective tarps on close to 30 homes in Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture. Hats off to Shinohara san and his team! I am planning to go up to region shortly on a fact finding trip to learn how Canadian stakeholders might engage and assist in supporting residents rebuild. More reports to come!       

The bath house | Photo courtesy of Yuichiro Shinohara