Born and raised in Tokyo, I have witnessed various natural and man-made events throughout my life. However, the start of 2024 has been particularly tumultuous for Japan, with significant incidents impacting not only locals but also tourists and global perceptions of safety in our country.
The Noto Peninsula Earthquake of January 1, 2024
On New Year’s Day, a major earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.
With a magnitude of 7.6, it was the largest quake recorded in the region since 1885.
The tremors were so powerful that they reached a maximum seismic intensity of 7 in Ishikawa Prefecture – a first for the area.
The earthquake led to a major tsunami warning for Noto and advisories along the Sea of Japan, evoking memories of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Airplane Collision on January 2, 2024
The following day brought another tragedy.
A Japan Airlines flight, numbered 516, collided with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft at Haneda Airport, causing a fire.
While all 379 passengers and crew on the Japan Airlines flight evacuated safely, there were heartbreaking casualties among the Coast Guard crew, with five of the six members on board confirmed dead.
Notably, the Coast Guard aircraft was transporting supplies to Niigata Air Base in response to the Noto Peninsula earthquake.
Despite these events, life in Tokyo has been relatively undisturbed.
The city continues its regular activities, and many tourists are still enjoying their visits.
However, the impact of the airplane collision at Haneda Airport has led to significant disruptions.
Around 100 flights from Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways are expected to be canceled on January 3, causing considerable confusion and inconvenience.
The Shinkansen and major highways have also been affected by these events.
While the bullet trains are largely operational, some additional services have been added to accommodate the disrupted air travel.
The highways, especially around the year-end and New Year period, have seen congestion.
Additionally, travelers planning to visit the Ishikawa area, particularly around the Noto Peninsula, need to be cautious due to the extensive damage caused by the earthquake.
A Final Note to Travelers
Despite these challenges, I encourage everyone, both locals and visitors, to continue enjoying the beauty and culture of Tokyo and Japan.
These events, while devastating, showcase the resilience and spirit of our nation.
It’s during these times that the support and continued engagement of tourists become more valuable than ever, contributing to the recovery and solidarity of the communities affected.
As a final note, I urge visitors, if possible, to consider using any leftover change or small amounts of currency for donations to earthquake relief efforts upon their departure.
Every contribution, no matter how small, can make a significant difference in aiding those affected by these recent events.
This act of generosity is a powerful way to show solidarity and support for Japan during its time of need.