This past weekend, shortly before midnight on Saturday local time, Japan was rocked by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake off the country’s northeast coast.
Effects were felt all along the east coast as far as Tokyo, however Fukushima prefecture was hit particularly hard with over 100 people reportedly injured.
One of Fukushima’s best-known motoring attractions, Ebisu Circuit, did not escape unharmed with photos showing extensive landslides which have rendered many of the complex’s famous circuits unrecognisable.
Located approximately four hours outside of Tokyo, Ebisu Circuit plays host to various historic track configurations and skid pans, including Minami South Course, Drift Land, School Course, and the 'touge' mountain pass. Ebisu is considered something of a mecca within the global drifting community, and has hosted generations of Japanese drivers as well as international travelers who have made the journey there in person.
Drift Land and Nishi (west) circuit appear to be hardest hit, and will reportedly be closed for at least several months as extensive clean-up efforts are no doubt required.
For those concerned for the adjacent Tohoku Safari Park attached to Ebisu, you’ll be glad to hear that all employees and animals are reported safe and without injury.
The epicenter of the quake occurred around 68 kilometers off the Fukushima coast, and sparked painful memories for residents by occurring almost ten years on from the deadly magnitude 9.0 earthquake of 2011, which sparked the Fukushima nuclear accident and killed nearly 20,000 people.
At least 121 people were injured by the quake over the weekend, although there have been no reported deaths. The earthquake registered a magnitude of 4.0 in Tokyo, causing hundreds of buildings to lose power. Shinkansen services to much of Northern Japan were suspended due to damage along various train lines, with local media asserting that repairs could take up to ten days.
Toyota and Nissan, however, have stated that none of their plants in the area were affected.
Despite the dramatic images at Ebisu, there are already talks of repair. We hope to see the historic circuit patched up and hosting Matsuri in no time!