Noto Peninsula

The new year could not have started off worse (unless you were flying into Haneda).

Yahoo Japan News posted an article on 2 January 2024 reporting on the earthquake that rocked the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa from around 16:10 on New Year’s Day and its impact on the vibrant brewing culture of the Hokuriku area along the north-west coast of Honshu.

(Photo of the Noto Peninsula taken in November 2019 by 雷太)

The earthquake (or rather series of quakes) produced vibrations that hit the peak level 7 on the Japanese shindō (震度) scale of measured seismic intensity.

Kashiwazaki City in Niigata Prefecture, which faces the Noto Peninsula across Toyama Bay, is home to 200+ year old Hara Shuzō, makers of Koshi no Homare. They reported cracks and water leaks in their buildings, and even brewing tanks shifted out of position. Some bottles of sake stored on the premises were shattered when stacks of crates were thrown over, as shown in photos shared on the brewery’s account on X (formerly Twitter). 

Despite the damage, the brewery said that plenty of sake had not been damaged, and any staff who could get to the brewery were starting to clear up. Their Wajo-Gura building, newly constructed in 2007 to produce premium sake, was built to withstand even a Shindo 7 earthquake so the worst was limited to some shelves falling over. However Seicho-Gura, their futsūshu brewery, looked like it had subsided. Their rice polishing area is housed in a fairly old earthen-walled building, which lost roof tiles and showed damage to the walls, but the machinery seemed to be safe. They also reported that no tsunami waves hit nearby, thanked followers for their messages of concern, and later posted on the brewery Instagram account that all employees were safe.

Matsunami, makers of Ōeyama, are on the Noto Peninsula itself. Seiko Kinshichi, next in line to take over the brewery, reported that both the brewery and her family home had both collapsed, and the Matsunami area of Noto City suffered heavy damage. She and her family were sheltering at Matsunami Junior High School with over 600 other people, injured but glad to be alive. She also noted that local roads were damaged but people were helping each other as best they could.

Sado Island, home to many well-known breweries, was also hit. A shocked Sen’ichi Katō of Tenryohai said the damage was far beyond what he ever could have imagined. He had checked inside one of their refrigerated warehouses and found stocks of one of their sake crushed, and was worried about the situation inside the others.

Nearly 200 km away to the south in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture, Mikawa Shuzō, makers of Maibijin, experienced Shindo 5 shaking around 16:10 on 1 January. Fierce horizontal shaking left cracks in the brewery’s whitewashed walls, but no-one was hurt and no stock was lost. 

To the north in Minami-Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, Takachiyo Shuzō also reported zero broken bottles as they had completely protected their storage against earthquakes, but there was minor damage and some sake spilled from the tanks. 


The earthquake must also have hit Sogen Shuzō, who are close to the epicentre, and also other Sado Island breweries such as Obata Shuzō, home of the brewing school Gakkōgura. A quick look at a map of the Noto Peninsula shows 11 breweries, four in Wajima and several near the tip where the earthquake was strongest. 


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