Japan Attraction: Disaster Prevention Park

Useful Japanese words:
Saigai 災害 / さいがい (Disaster)
Jishin 地震 / じしん (Earthquake)
Tsunami 津波  / つなみ (Tidal Wave)
Abunai 危ない / あぶない (Dangerous)
Anzen-sei 安全性 / あんぜんせい (Safety)

Japan is very prone to earthquakes. The Tōkyō Rinkai Kōiki Bōsai Kōen (東京臨海広域防災公園), or Disaster Prevention Park in English, is right on the edge of Tokyo Bay in a district called Odaiba. It is a park dedicated to the education and training of people on the proper preparation and response to common natural disasters in Japan such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The park facility has several educational presentations, displays and programs for visitors to browse.

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The main attraction is the 72 hour survival tour. The tour itself is not 72 hours, it’s probably only about 30-40 minutes. However, the tour unveils the scenario of what happens within 72 hours of a major earthquake. Visitors on the tour will receive a tablet to carry with them through the tour that has guided questions and information for learning. An English option is available.

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After basic instructions, the tour begins with a short elevator ride, where we experience a small “earthquake” that is supposed to signify having actually been through a major earthquake. Obviously, a small shake does not adequately simulate a major earthquake, however I can understand that they probably don’t want to actually cause people injuries, so we pretend. The rest of the tour is exploring the wreckage that such an earthquake would inflict on society.

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We enter an area with model broken buildings and streets, damage everywhere. We can use the tablets we were given to follow a guided map, going from place to place in the disaster area to learn what happened, answer quiz questions, and we can use the camera to look at specific points to see animated images of what might have happened after a major earthquake. There are simulated fire areas, and also a news reel of actual footage after a major earthquake in Japan (all in Japanese of course).

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After the disaster area, we enter a display area that simulates what appears to be an evacuation point, or safe zone. It is where people would gather after the disaster like refugees, who may have had their homes destroyed or be separated from family or the things they need. They have photos and mock-ups of basic sleeping arrangements set up, emergency supplies like food, water and medical, and some information on basic emergency recovery procedures.

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On the walls outside the tour in some of the other rooms, there are informational facts and displays. One wall has basic first aid instructions, another has statistical facts about the destruction of some major earthquakes in the past and what could be predicted in a future occurrence. It attempts to help people think more seriously about the dangers of major natural disasters and start preparing before they happen so that people will be better equipped to survive and cope with a disaster of that magnitude.

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For a basic run down, here is what you should do in the event of an earthquake:

In any situation, if you have professional staff around, such as in a store, on a train or bus, or other public places, be sure to follow the instructions of the staff around you and do not panic. Also, do not be surprised by aftershocks, as they are common.

If you are inside a building:
(1) Immediately turn off heat sources, like stove, gas, or electrical appliances to prevent possible fires.
(2) Open doors to the room and building to make sure a way of evacuating is secured (do not run outside!).
(3) Get under a very STURDY desk/table or stand under a door frame during the earthquake. Try to protect your head as much as possible. You can use a bag, purse or backpack with you for extra protection if available. Stay away from windows and anything that could easily break, fall, or injure you.
(4) If you are in an elevator, push ALL of the floor buttons so that the elevator stops at the nearest floor and get out immediately. Follow steps three and four once out of the elevator.
(5) Prepare to evacuate after the earthquake. Only use stairs if you are on a higher floor, do not use elevators or escalators.

If you are outside:
(1) Check above and around you and get away from anything that could fall or injure you. Stay away from gates, concrete block walls, vending machines, power lines, utility poles and anything that could fall on you. Also don’t go near cliffs, riverbanks or anywhere that you might fall off.

If you are driving:
(1)  Slow down, stop the car on the side of the road, and turn off the engine. (DO NOT STOP UNDER BRIDGES OR OVERPASSES. They may collapse and crush you and your car.).
(2) Stay in the car and listen to the radio for emergency information until the quake ceases.
(3) Follow instructions given by police and emergency personnel.
(4) If instructed to leave the car, leave the doors unlocked and the key in the car in case your car needs to be moved by emergency personnel.

After the earthquake:
(1) Collect accurate information for yourself about the current status around you. Listen to radio and TV reports, do not believe all rumors, verify facts, and be cautious.
(2) Evacuate to a designated shelter.
(3) Use aid stations to get home if you are away. Public transportation may be disrupted and it may be necessary to walk home. In this case, Japan has set up aid stations with water and route directions to help people who need to walk home.

Here are signs of an incoming tsunami and what you should do:
(1) An earthquake is a natural tsunami sign. An earthquake can trigger killer waves thousands of miles away, so after an earthquake, do not stay near areas that could be within range of a tsunami or flooding.
(2) If you are at a beach or water-line, witnesses have reported tsunamis being preceded by a significant fall or rise in water level at the shore. If you see the water receding rapidly, it may be a sign that a huge wave is coming, and you should head to high ground immediately.
(3) Do not assume that if there is only a minimal sign of a tsunami in your area, that it is like that everywhere. Still take precautions and get safely away.
(4) Avoid rivers and streams that lead to the ocean, because tsunamis and flooding can travel up these water ways as well.
(5) Flooding waters can extend inland by 1,000 ft (300 meters) or more. If you can, get to high ground that the water can’t reach, or if no high ground is nearby, then get far inland to avoid possible flood areas.

In any type of natural disaster, it is good to have an emergency bag and stock of non-perishable food, water and emergency supplies to help you survive and recover from a major incident. For advice on protection measures and lists of supplies that are recommended to have, visit these sites:

Tips from the US Embassy in Japan

Tips from the Japanese government

Thank you for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about earthquake and disaster preparedness. Wherever you are, stay safe and plan ahead. Go out and find your own adventures and stories, then share them with me! I also welcome guest bloggers if you have a story or experience you’d like to share, please contact me and let me know!

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