January 23, 2024
TOKYO – Three weeks after the Noto Peninsula Earthquake hit Ishikawa Prefecture, services between Hakui and Nanao stations on JR Nanao Line resumed on Monday, connecting the peninsula to the prefectural capital of Kanazawa.
In the Okunoto area of the peninsula, classes resumed at some elementary and junior high schools on Monday, while a nursery school in Wajima began accepting children again. Residents of the quake-hit areas are gradually returning to their normal lives.
On Monday morning, Nanao Station on the namesake line, which normally runs between Tsubata and Wakura Onsen stations, was crowded with commuters.
“I’m happy because I can finally see my friends during the third term, my last term in high school,” a third-year high school student, 18, said before getting on the train.
The student, who lives in Nanao, was able to go to school on the day for the first time since the Jan. 1 earthquake, although her high school in the town of Tsubata has already started third term classes.
The operation of Thunderbird express trains between Osaka and Nanao stations also resumed on Monday. Railway operators, including West Japan Railway Co. (JR West), said they aim to resume more services in mid-February. These services cover the remaining section of the JR line, which is between Nanao and Wakura Onsen stations, and the Noto Railway-operated section, which is between Nanao and Noto Nakajima stations and runs along the coast of the peninsula.
However, even if services leading to Wakura Onsen Station are restored, business in the Wakura Onsen hot spring district, where there are 22 Japanese-style inns, is unlikely to return to normal soon. According to the Wakura Onsen Hotels Cooperative Association, some inns have suffered damage from the quake, with paving stones near their entrances shifted and the exterior walls cracked, exposing reinforcing steel. It is doubtful that most of the inns will be able to reopen by mid-February.
The start of the new school term had been postponed at some schools in the prefecture, and classes began at a total of 16 public elementary and junior high schools in five cities and towns, with two schools in Suzu and all nine schools in Noto reopening. Nine other schools in Suzu had already resumed classes, therefore all the schools in Suzu and Noto have now reopened.
In Wajima, where all 11 nursery facilities had been closed due to the quake, children returned to the Kawai nursery school, located near the morning market district, as its temporary care service resumed Monday.
“It’s helpful to be able to leave my children [at nursery school],” said a 33-year-old company employee of the city.