Such a strong quake, and still, nearly no damage
Two roads that split in half, a few walls that fell down, some tiles fallen from their roofs, 7 people slightly injured during evacuation... Those are the only damages we have to declare after a violent earthquake struck Tsuruoka on 2019, June 18th.
The earthquake's epicenter was found to be in Atsumi's sea, 33km away from the coasts. Atsumi is a little village on the south of the central city. It is known for its beautiful hot springs and its cherry trees flourishing alongside Atsumi river on mid April.
But on Tuesday's night, at 10:22pm, Atsumi's calm was disturbed by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake.
The villages down Atsumi: Nezugaseki (a fisherman village known for its delicious sushi, which I talked about in a previous article), and Murakami (Niigata Prefecture), were also deeply impacted by the quake.
In the Central city, inhabitants got the fear of their life even though the shakes were less violent: only magnitude 5 for the central city.
"This is the first time I experienced such a strong quake," says Haruka Sato, a city employee living in Atsumi region.
"In 2011, when the big quake happened, the shakes in Tsuruoka weren't even that strong. The magnitude was around 4, if I recall," she follows.
The lady selling goods at the underground level of Tsuruoka city office, says:
"This is my second earthquake since I was born. In 1964, there was the Niigata earthquake. That, too, was an extremely scary experience."
That is true, Tsuruoka has always remained spared from earthquakes and natural disasters. This is why it was such a shocking experience for the inhabitants themselves.
Still, outside Atsumi area, no real damage is to be reported. Kamo Aquarium's jellyfish are fine and the aquarium opened up as usual the next day, the museums, the monuments, the houses, the shops, everything is as usual.
Dewa Sanzan is still as untouched as usual. Did you know Mt. Haguro's Pagoda has actually been designed to resist quakes? Let's take a look at the pagoda's architecture's secret that inspired the construction of Tokyo's Skytree.
Mt. Haguro's Five-Storied pagoda's five roofs are attached to a tower which is balanced by a central pillar that starts from the second floor. The central pillar allows the tower to sway with the shakes without cracking in case of earthquake. The shocks are not absorbed by the first floors walls that would crack on themselves under the weight of each roof, but by the central pillar (shinbashira 心柱) that vibrates with each shake and allocates vibration equally everywhere on the pagoda.
Resisting 2019 Yamagata Earthquake? Easy as pie!
Now, one week later, Tsuruoka is perfectly safe for any traveler. Don't fear coming to Tsuruoka, earthquakes are rarer than rare (you'll probably experience more earthquakes during a one month stay in Tokyo than in 10 years here) and when they occur, they obviously leave nearly no mark at all!
Atsumi is still recovering from its wounds. Volunteering actions are led from time to time to help grandmothers pick the fallen tiles, repairs roofs and move heavy stones.
We wanted to tell you we are fine, and that only 7 of our people were (slightly) injured. We hope the quake won't disturb your plans of coming here and are eager to welcome you in Tsuruoka City.