Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
What To Do In Case Of An Earthquake During Your Trip In Japan
For a tourist in Japan an earthquake can be a terrifying experience, but the most dangerous things one can do in that situation is panic. In this article we explain what travelers should do in the case of an earthquake.
Written by Sawada Tomomi
Earthquake in Japan? Stay Calm
Japan is a country with frequent earthquakes. All year long there are earthquakes both small and large occurring throughout the nation. But this doesn't mean that the Japanese live in constant worry or fear all the time. This is because they know what to do in case one happens. Just in case you ever encounter an earthquake in Japan, you should know what to do, how to evacuate, and how to get in contact with others.
How To Stay Safe
Protect yourself from falling objects, be careful of collapsing buildings, and evacuate to a safe open place, such as a park. If you don't have enough time to get to an open space, run inside a relatively new, reinforced concrete, earthquake-resistant building.
Stations And Trains
If you're at a station, protect yourself from falling objects, and move to a nearby pillar so you don't fall from the platform. If it's too crowded to move around, you should crouch down and wait for the shaking to stop. If you're on a train, it will stop if a strong shock is felt. Be careful not to collide into the person beside you, as you may have people falling to the ground. If you're sitting down, you'll want to protect your head with your bag etc., and if you're standing, you should get down low.
If you run outside in panic without waiting for the shaking to stop, you will be putting yourself in danger of being hurt by falling objects and broken glass, as well as from tripping in panic. If you feel an earthquake, you will first want to hide in a spot where things "won't fall, won't collapse, and won't move". Even after the shocks have died down, you will need to be careful of broken glass pieces on the floor when evacuating outside.
Department Stores and Convenience Stores
If you're in a department store or a convenience store, you will need to be careful of the scattering items and collapsing showcases. Move to the closest stair landing or pillar. You should put your shopping basket over your head to protect yourself.
Whether you're inside or outside during an earthquake, it's important to
protect your head
. If you protect your head with a magazine or a bag, you might be able to prevent a fatal injury. If you ever feel the ground shaking, make protecting your head your first priority.
Refuge Spots In Tokyo
When there is an earthquake or other disaster in Japan, it is recommended to gather at a designated evacuation spot. However, there are times that it's safer to wait for the instructions of staff or other people around you before evacuating. First, you will need to stay calm, examine your surroundings and situation, and then evacuate to the nearest shelter.
Shinjuku: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Address: Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Naitomachi 11
If you're east of Shinjuku station, the nearest refuge spot is Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. It is located 10 minutes from Shinjuku station's South Exit on foot. It is usually a garden which requires an entrance fee, but is opened to the public in the time of a disaster.
Shibuya: Hachiyama Junior High School
Address: Tokyo Shibuya-ku Uguisudanicho 9-1
A refuge spot close to the center of Shibuya. The gates are usually closed for security purposes, but are opened to the public in the event of a disaster.
Shibuya: Shoto Junior High School
Address: Tokyo Shibuya-ku Shoto 1-20-4
This is also a refuge spot near the center of Shibuya. You should head to the one that is closer to you in case of emergency.
Asakusa: Asakusa Elementary School
Address: Tokyo Taito-ku Hanakawado 1-14-15
The nearest refuge spot from Sensoji temple.
Asakusa: Tawara Elementary School
Address: Tokyo Taito-ku Kaminarimon 1-5-15
A refuge spot by Tawaramachi station. If you are staying at a hotel nearby, you should head here.
Ginza: Taimei Elementary School
Address: Tokyo Chuo-ku Ginza 5-1-13
This refuge spot is the closest from the center of Ginza.
Ginza: Kyobashi Plaza
Address: Tokyo Chuo-ku Ginza 1711-1
If you're near Ginza-itchome or Shintomicho station, this is the nearest refuge spot.
Convenient Information Media and Services
JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization)
The Japan National Tourism Organization may establish a special website for tourists in Japan in the case of a disaster. The site offers information about disasters in English.
TEL: 03-3201-3331 or (＋81)3-3201-3331 (International) *Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean *Late night (17:00-09:00 in Japan: Japanese and English)
Safety Tips (App)
An app that offers disaster information and earthquake warnings (iPhone, android). Available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
Disaster Preparedness Tokyo
A disaster prevention book that is available for free from the Tokyo Metropolitan government. Information about what to do in the case of an earthquake, things to be aware of, and emergency contact numbers are listed. The book is currently available for download in English, Chinese, and Korean.
Hirosaki University "Easy Japanese" Quick Reference
A disaster information website by Hirosaki University's Faculty of Humanities Sociolinguistics laboratory. Things to know about disasters and how to prevent secondary disasters are written in "easy Japanese".
Embassy Phone Numbers
*For international calls, remove the first 0 and include +81 in its place. (Example) (＋81)3-3224-5003
Phone Number: 03-3224-5000
Phone Number: 03-3452-7611/9
Phone Number: 03-3403-3380
Phone Number: 03-5789-2433
Phone Number: 03-3441-4201
Phone Number: 03-3466-3311/3313/3314
Phone Number: 03-5562-1600
Phone Number: 093-541-5605
Phone Number: 03-5232-4111
Phone Number: 03-5791-7700
Phone Number: 03-5798-6000
Phone Number: 03-3586-9111/2
Phone Number: 03-3583-8531/2
Phone Number: 03-3583-4224
Check the website below for information on embassies of other countries.
Embassies and Consulates in Japan (http://www.mofa.go.jp/about/emb_cons/protocol/a-h.html)
Because there are so many earthquakes in Japan, most of the buildings in Japan have been built so that they can withstand most earthquakes. It is actually more dangerous to panic in the case of an earthquake. If you encounter an earthquake in Japan, you should look around at the Japanese people and see how they're reacting, and be sure to calm down first before taking action.