Japan is a Land of Natural Disasters – Earthquakes

You know, Japan is one of great countries with natural disasters in the world. We have lots of typhoons, river floods due to heavy rain, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes… (Of course, we must not forget that these volcanoes gave us wonderful hot springs all over Japan.) In particular, earthquakes are totally part of everyday life for us. In fact, many of us get used to earthquakes, we are usually not so surprised to have small ones at all.

How should we prepare and protect ourselves from earthquakes?

However, it seems that whole of Japan has been shaking in these days. A massive earthquake with magnitude 6.1 hit Osaka last week and we also had other big shake with magnitude 4.6 in Gunma, a suburb prefecture of Tokyo, the day before of Osaka attack. Additionally, small shaking in Chiba prefecture, next to Tokyo, has continued intermittently due to slow slip. Although I don’t intend to frighten to you, but it is no wonder for us when a huge one attacks Tokyo and its surrounding areas in the near future.

Some of my foreign guests asked me how I prepare for earthquakes and what I should do when I encounter a big earthquakes. My answer for the question is “that’s the way it goes”. Of course, we have prepared for emergency and evacuations such as making stocks of water and survival foods in our house, preparing for emergency backpack kits, keeping the water in a bathtub for toilet in case of water outage.

In my case, I avoid to put tall furniture in my house as much as possible not for falling down and blocking spaces. (I have a only tall bookshelf in my room, but it is fasten by specific equipment between the top of the shelf and ceiling.) When we had East Japan great earthquake7years ago, almost all trains stopped in Tokyo and I had to go back to my house with wearing high heels by walking for 5 hours from my office. Now, I keep my sneakers at office in case the same thing happens. Most of us have prepared for the minimum, however I think that we have nothing to do for severe natural disasters, and all we can do is coping with the emergency situation on the spot by using our knowledge, training and experiences in the past.

Emergency Backpack Kit
This is a typical example of contents in emergency backpack. It contains a few days survival items and we will evacuate with it in case of emergency. (The photo is from pro-bousai.jp/)

special equipment for a bookshelf.jpg
It’s my tall bookshelf in my room and fasten by stretching rods between the top of the shelf and ceiling. Although I don’t like these white rods not harmonized with the shelf’s brown color, I have no choice for protecting myself so far.

What should you do when you encounter an earthquake during your stay?

But it must be very scary for you from abroad, especially from country which seldom hit earthquakes. When you encounter a big earthquake during your stay in Japan unfortunately, please don’t be in panic and calm down. When you are inside of the hotel, hide under the table or desk for protecting yourself and be apart from windows not for getting hurt by broken glasses. When you are outside, please protect your head with your bag or something and be apart from buildings which have panels and windows. When you are in a train and/or stations, just follow station staff’s instruction through in-car / on-site broadcasting. If you cannot understand their instructions well, ask other passengers to translate it. Whether they are Japanese or foreigners, they must be willing to support you in such situations. (Especially, Japanese has a strong mind to help each other under emergency and natural disasters even though they cannot speak in English fluently.)

Tokyo Metropolis provides a disaster prevention handbook for residents. They also have an English version.

Lastly, I just picked up some useful information for foreign guests in case of emergency below. I hope these info will work for you just in case. And there is the facility called “Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park” in Odaiba for learning how to protect yourself from natural disasters, so why don’t you visit there if you are interested in disaster prevention in Japanese way?

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