Latest Updates



Click for seminar details


KOI logo (135)
Who are we?




Chuetsu earthquake       (Chuetsu Earthquake 2004)


Japan lies on the Western edge of a geologically unstable region known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”.  This is an arc of volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean that are a result of movements in the Earth’s crust.

This movement also causes earthquakes around the edge of the region. There are more than 250 earthquake tremors in Japan every day.

Most of these are undetectable, except by seismographs, but there are up to 2,000 per year that can be felt by the population.

Ring of fire02


 At 5:56 pm (local time) on Saturday October 23rd 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Japanese Earthquake Scale, struck the Niigata Prefecture of Honshu, which is the main island of Japan.  It was centred on the city of Ojiya in the Chuetsu region.

Around 100,000 people were forced into temporary shelters in schools and public buildings.

Around 10,000 people were displaced from their upland homes.  Some, for several years, and others may never be able to return.

The earthquake caused the first ever derailment of a Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train) on it’s way from Tokyo to Niigata.  Eight out of the ten cars were derailed as it was exiting a tunnel near the town of Tokamachi.  It was travelling at over 200km/hr.  Fortunately, no injuries were reported among the 155 passengers in this derailment.

This important rail link was closed until the damage to bridges and tunnels along the route could be repaired.

Shinkansen derailed

Shinkansen bridge damageShinkansen bridge damage2

Within minutes of the first earthquke there were two more, followed by around 300 aftershocks over the next 12 hours.  Another powerful aftershock followed on the morning of Monday 25th.  This caused another building in Niigata to collapse.  The series of earthquakes were the most powerful to hit Japan for 10 years, and between them, they were responsible for killing 40 people, including one elderly patient who died in Ojiya Hospital when the tremors dislodged an artificial respirator. The total number of injuries was 3,000.

Buildings and the infrastructure were destroyed on a massive scale.

niigata 01Niigata 02

Niigata 03

Niigata 0403Niigata 05


In addition to the human tragedy, the series of earthqukes brought devastation to the Koi breeders in the area.  It is estimated that about one million, or approximately 40% of Niigata's Koi also died.  Some were killed as their ponds disappeared into the fissures that opened in the ground, or as the water in their ponds drained away through smaller cracks.  Landslides or mudslides destroyed many ponds. Others died as a result of the failure of filtration and aeration systems when the power to them was cut off.  Particularly badly hit was Yamakoshi Village, which was destroyed.

Yamakoshi Earthquake03

Road destroyed by landslide at Yamakoshi Village


When the earthquakes struck, Alan Coogan was actually in Yamakoshi and so was able to send back these pictures of the immediate after-effects.

Yamakoshi_Alan Coogan 1

Yamakoshi_Alan Coogan 2

Yamakoshi_Alan Coogan 3

Yamakoshi_Alan Coogan 4

Yamakoshi_Alan Coogan 5


Mamoru Kodama is a well respected Koi breeder and author of many articles on Koi.  He has also written two books on the subject, (Kokugyo 1 and Kokugyo 2).

After witnessing the devastation, he decided to set up the International Nishikigoi Promotion Centre in order to help restore Niigata’s Nishikigoi tradition.

 Click to visit the INPC web site.

INPC logo



Without the help, the photos, the permission to access achives and information supplied by the following, this article would not have been possible.  Thank you all.

Alan Coogan
Riki Honda
Kyoto University, Japan
US Geological Survey, California
International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
CNN International
Kiso Japan Consulants
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI)