|This article is about an event in Higurashi When They Cry.|
The Great Hinamizawa Disaster (雛見沢大災害 Hinamizawa Dai Saigai) is an event where the entire population of Hinamizawa was killed overnight by volcanic gas.
One night in June 1983, volcanic gas consisting of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide erupted from the Onigafuchi Swamp in Hinamizawa and killed every person living in the village. With this sudden catastrophe, over 600,000 people in nearby cities like Okinomiya were evacuated by local governments. The JSDF later discovered that the gas was produced by magma pools and hot springs under the swamp.
Hinamizawa's legends believed that their god Oyashiro-sama would destroy the village with miasma erupting from Onigafuchi Swamp if he were angry, with scholars believing this to be inspired by similar gas disasters happening in the past. Before the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, villagers discovered that Rika Furude was murdered, her entrails strewn out in a manner that resembled the classic Watanagashi Festival. Because Rika was the last living member of the Furude family and was seen as Oyashiro-sama's reincarnation, survivors of the disaster believe that her sacrilegious death was what angered their god and caused the disaster in the first place.
Aftermath and Impact
The entire Hinamizawa area became a prohibited zone after the disaster; people weren't allowed to visit the village, and planes were also not allowed to fly overhead. The swamp was filled in with concrete to prevent any more gas from leaking out. The lockdown was temporarily lifted after the gas density went down, but after another gas burst was reported it was closed off again. Hinamizawa wouldn't be reopened for good until 10 to 20 years after the incident.
Many survivors of the disaster were hospitalized for sickness, some dying from unknown causes. There were others proclaiming they were possessed by Oyashiro-sama and committed suicide. There was a massive social impact where people became terrified of being killed overnight by poison gas and were afraid of even the slightest odd smell, resulting in insomnia, headaches and other problems.
The media sensationalized the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, connecting it to the string of annual deaths and disappearances known as Oyashiro-sama's curse. The manga arc Onisarashi-hen shows that people from Hinamizawa were even murdering their entire families before committing suicide, which TV shows and magazines heavily reported on. The widespread media influence resulted in Hinamizawans becoming treated as freaks, not helped by rumors that the villagers were descended from demons.
This article or section contains untagged major spoilers for the original Higurashi When They Cry and possibly the console-exclusive arcs. Readers who have not completed the main story are advised not to proceed further.
The Irie Clinic has been secretly researching Hinamizawa Syndrome for years, a virus that every villager in Hinamizawa is infected with that makes people become incredibly violent when in the terminal stages. Rika is supposed to be the queen carrier for the virus, and her presence calms symptoms in the villagers and prevents them from going insane. It is thus believed that if she died, every single villager would enter terminal stages of Hinamizawa Syndrome within 48 hours and commit all sorts of atrocities after that time. The virus' existence is kept secret from the rest of the world, and an outbreak of symptoms with a population this size would be disastrous both to the world at large and to the Japanese Prime Minister's political plans, part of the reason that the manual is even considered in the first place. To that end, Emergency Manual 34 was devised by the clinic to exterminate the villagers should the queen carrier die in order to preserve the secret. Equipment such as gas canisters are secretly stored in Yagouchi Quarry and maintained regularly, as Rika could die at any time.
Miyo Takano, one of the leading members of the Irie Clinic, is the true mastermind behind the Great Hinamizawa Disaster in every arc and chooses to bring it about to prove that her grandfather's research into Hinamizawa Syndrome and his queen carrier theory were legitimate. If she could successfully prove his research factual then it would be talked about for years, and she and her grandfather would be practically seen as gods.
To that end, Takano kidnaps Rika by knocking her out and personally dissects and kills her, leaving her mutilated corpse out in the open for the rest of the villagers to discover. The death of the queen carrier is soon reported to the Prime Minister, and permission to enact the manual is given. In accordance with Emergency Manual 34, the Secrecy Preservation Unit affiliated with the clinic wakes up the villagers at night and rounds them up in disaster shelters and other buildings on the pretense that there is a gas leak and they are being evacuated. Windows, doors and other cracks are sealed up with duct tape to prevent gas from leaking in, with the unknowing villagers helping because of their strong sense of unity. Gas canisters are then deployed to kill everyone once they are assembled, with permission given to shoot fleeing villagers. Poisoned villagers' corpses are then gathered up, with shot villagers' corpses collected somewhere else. Once all the villagers have been disposed of, control of the operation is given to official disaster recovery organizations. A cover story is then put out that the villagers all died in a natural gas disaster.
The extra arc Yoigoshi describes rumors that Hinamizawa became a "land of the dead" after the disaster. It was believed that the spirits of the victims still inhabited the land, and this was actually witnessed firsthand by Akira Otobe and his companions.
- Tatarigoroshi Epilogue 1