Extreme Weather

Me and Sensei, dressed for the typhoon

Seeing as Tokyo and Chiba are mid typhoon right now, I figured I had an appropriate blog post for the end of the month. The joke is that in Australia any and all of the animals are out to get you. Japan is the same way, but with the weather. Let me be clear, between the actual safety of Japanese society, the low crime rate, and the precautions taken, Japan is no more dangerous a country to live in than any other, just dangerous for different reasons. Everyone knows that Japan is prone to earthquakes, sitting where it sits on whatever tectonic or geologic plate it sits on, the country sees lots of seismic activity, which hadn’t really been brought to my attention until the disaster of March 2011, in which a large earthquake caused a tsunami caused a nuclear crisis. Because of that, there’s not this idea, at least in the states that Japan is a dangerous place, but I can’t say that I feel anymore at risk than anywhere else I’ve been in the states. At least in Japan, I can sleep on the train (which i often do), without being afraid of having my stuff stolen. Or leave my jacket at a table at the food court without worrying it will be stolen. The fact is that there are real fears in every country, and it just so happens Japan’s are very stigmatized.

Firstly, earthquakes. Earthquakes are a daily part of Japanese life. You might feel one anywhere from once a month to twice a week. The important thing to know is that everything in this country is built with the event of an earthquake in mind. The skyscrapers sway to stay upright. The train lines are stable. And every city has a designated and more importantly, functioning, disaster relief center. In the case of a tsunami, the same is also true. Warnings go out hours in advance, telling people where to go, what to do. A month ago, when the earthquake struck the Philippines, Japan got a warning for a tsunami inches high. Trust me, you won’t be unprepared.

Even so however, the Senseis at Meikai University took us to the Bousaikaikan (防災会館) in Kinshicho, Tokyo for a field trip, where we went through a three hour training program, through actual simulations of Earthquakes, Typhoons, and Fires, of how to survive any one of the disasters. We learned what to do first in an earthquake, what to protect our heads with. Experienced a makeshift typhoon in a room that shot wind and water at you and learned how to put out a fire. I’ve uploaded some of the videos from the trip. Enjoy the student commentary in the background.

Earthquake Simulator
The initial comment makes more sense if you understand that on the left is a fake gas valve we’re supposed to shut off after the earthquake.

Fire Simulator