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Earthquake Preparedness

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Earthquake Preparedness
By rach on Saturday, September 21, 2002 - 12:25 am:

What essential items should a non Japanese speaker keep in his emergency kit and what English speaking emergency hotline to dialup in case help is needed. Also I am curious to know what happens to ones bank deposits in case one loses or misplaces bank book in an earthquake? Are the deposits guaranteed against against such events.

By Natasha on Monday, September 23, 2002 - 10:01 am:

The Tokyo American Club Women's Group community Services Committee invites the public to a free program in English:

*Disaster Awareness Night 2002*
Monday, October 7, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Learn how to call an ambulance, report fire, and prepare for a major earthquake, as well as what to do in such emergencies.

At Tokyo American Club
2-3-1 Azabudai, Minato Ward, Tokyo
(behind the Russian Embassy)
5-minute walk from Kamiyacho (subway) station or Azabujuban Station.
I asked my post office about losing a passbook once and from what I was able to understand, all data is in their computers so with proper identification a new passbook could be issued. I assume this sort of solution would also apply to a bank. But if systems were partially destroyed it might take some time.

By Indo mommy on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 3:00 pm:

Hi all,

with all the recent happenings, any tips on how to be prepared for such events?

sadly the evacuation area details/info is all in japanese in my area. So I am off to my local friends to find out more.

Any hotline numbers in english?

thanks and take care all!

By Bethan Hutton on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 10:26 pm:

We were up in northern Gunma at the weekend, very close to Niigata, so for the first time I experienced what a "real" earthquake can be like - glasses crashing down off the shelves, pictures falling off the walls, etc. Luckily we didn't have any tall furniture, but if we had, it would probably have fallen over.

Now I am back in Tokyo I am planning to do the following things:

- Remove anything dangerously heavy or breakable from high-up shelves where it could fall on our heads

- fix all our tall furniture (bookshelves, etc) to the walls with special earthquake bands. Places like Tokyu hands and hardware store sell these - they are like strong nylon straps, with hardware either end to fix them to the piece of furniture and the walls. Yes, I know it will probably mean the landlord will make a deduction from our deposit when we move out, but I think that's worth it for reducing the risk of being crushed in an earthquake.

- Update our earthquake kits (we keep rucksacks with emergency kits right by our front door) to make sure that the batteries in our torches and radios are still working, the spare clothes still fit the children, and the water/food/medicines are still within their use-by dates. You can buy special earthquake kits (usually in silver rucksacks) at the shops, but it is just as easy to put together the things you might need by yourself.

- Make sure we have some cash (small notes and some coins for payphones) and photocopies of our passports and ID cards in the emergency bags. Also a note of important phone numbers, eg the children's schools/nurseries, relevant embassies, local hospitals, family back home etc.

For general earthquake information, I think most ward, town or city offices will have a leaflet in English and other languages giving basic advice on what to do in an earthquake, and showing a map of the evacuation areas. If they don't, make an official protest! Then maybe they will provide a translation.

For up-to-date information in English and other languages when there actually is an emergency, try finding your local foreign-language radio station, eg InterFM in Tokyo (76.1 fm/76.5fm).

These stations were allowed to start up in the wake of the Kobe earthquake and given special licences on condition that they provided emergency information in a range of languages (usually including English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese and Tagalog) if there is an earthquake or other natural disaster.

Other stations with the same mandate are:

RADIOi (covers Nagoya/Aichi Prefecture) 79.5fm, or 79.9 in Hamamatsu and 89.0 in Toyohashi;

FM CoCoLo in Kansai on 76.5fm;

Love FM on 76.1 in Fukuoka, 82.7 in Kitakyushu, and 82.5 in Fukuoka Nishi.

I found this page with some useful advice - it's a bit old, but I don't think it has changed much.

Anyone else have any useful information?

By Bethan Hutton on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 09:54 pm:
A few more useful links I found:
Advice on making your home safer and putting together an emergency plan for your family:

Red Cross page on what to do after an earthquake:,1082,0_568_,00.html

Red Cross list of links to information in other languages:,1082,0_504_,00.html

By Yuko Kubota on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 2:11 am:

It's probably mentioned on one of those public notices, but something that FAMILIES can do right away is to decide a meeting point.

Make sure everyone in your family including your little ones know where to meet in case they loose contact with each other. This should typically be your home, since it's easy to remember. Even if your home breaks down, you can come back and attach a note for your family.

Also, carry your family photo. Local TV can show photos in case you want to look for anybody.

People did these things a lot upon the Great Hanshin Earthquake.

By Mono on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 11:35 am:

Yeah, Bethan's right. You can find the helpful/essential information in English or in major foreign languages in the particular community's city hall or community centers. The Tokai, Nankai, and Miyagi Prefecture in Tohoku have been preparing for the big earthquakes that are said to hit the areas any time, so they have lots of information on the web. I've read somewhere that in Shizuoka Prefecture, you can get the live natural disaster updates, evacuation info and other critical information in the language of your choice sent to your cell phone if you sign up. I don't know if the local authority or NPO is providing this service, and I'm sorry I could not find their website. I've also read somewhere that in places like Miyagi Prefecture, you can have a city inspect your house to see if your house needs reinforcement, and will send professionals to do the job!

In any disaster prevention sites, people are advised to prepare at least 3 days-worth of emergency supplies because it might take up to 3 days for the supplies to reach the victims. This assumption is proven correct in Niigata earthquakes, and it's just heart-breaking to hear a story of a family of 5 getting only 2 rice balls in 24hours.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 12:17 am:

**freely forwardable**
The post office will send emergency relief packages to Niigata for free if you send them to the Nagaoka City Hall at:

Niigata-Ken, Nagaoka-Shi
Sawai-machi, 2-Chome 1-1
Nagaoka Shiyakusho
Saigai Taisaku Honbu

(Ed. note: actually there are about 15 locations you can send to, e.g., the Red Cross location in Niigata. See this post office homepage (Japanese only) for other addresses:

(1) How and What to send:
Items other than cash and which do not require special handling (no cool items or fragile items)
** Cash can be sent to other locations-- again, see this HP for details:

Relief Items (clothing, blankets)
Non-perishable food
Daily amenities (diapers, alcohol spray, towels, saran wrap, tampons)
School items

** Must be packed in a "small package (KOTSUTSU YUUBIN BUTSU)" sized box. Again, no special handling (no cool storage, etc.)

** Please pack only new items and one type of item in each box
(e.g., a box of drinking water, OR a box of food, OR a box of daily amenities-- do not mix them together)

** Please refrain from sending the following:
- Used underwear or used blankets (even laundered)
- Fresh or perishable foods (no onigiri, etc.)

** Please mark as KYUUENJO YOU ("For Emergency Relief")
** Please label contents CLEARLY on outside of package

** Sender may not request specific distribution of goods (as in sending to a specific person, village or group.)
** Items may not be sent to gain profit.
** Packages to individuals are not eligible for this service.

The free shipping is only until 24-Nov.

By Cornelia on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 12:32 pm:
Earthquake relief packages
PS -- keep in mind if you are sending clothing that it gets a lot colder in Niigata than in Tokyo and we are headed into winter.

By Scott Hancock on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 9:51 am:

I hope all the JWK readers will get through the lengthy quote to the disclaimers in the references at the bottom of the above. I was buying into this guy for several years until I came across all the contrary information.

Liat - appreciate your posting, but maybe we can put the disclaimers and contrary things first so people are sure to see them? I feel a bit queasy posting such a large amount of information that's highly disputed.


By Trupti Gandhi on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 11:46 am:

phew!! scary even reading!!!
KC on interFM had once mentioned a similar startegy.. he said to go near a fridge or some other solid object... rather then crawling under dining tables and so on... he also gave a URL to download this instructions about what to do in japanese and english... it is called survival manual... i right now do not remember where to download it from but it does have a checklist of items and things you shd do under a given situation. it also has a few forms to fill and keep in case you are a victim... besides that it has some telephone numbers for emmergency use and embassey comtact details.

all this info is in japanese as well as english... if the admin suggests i can send her a copy of this file and she can then put it on this site...

By Trupti Gandhi on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 11:56 am:

well here is the adress to get the survival manual .pdf file... mind you it is almost 90 pages and a little more then 3 MB big... but worth the time as it covers all thine things you need to know being in tokyo...

{} <== you can go towards the bottom of the page and see in the fireign advisory services... this manual is listed... and if you want to go directly to it then pl. try this.. {} <-- this site may not work if you do not have an adobe reader installed...

if anyone has gone thru this pl. tell me what do you think of it.

By Trupti Gandhi on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 11:57 am:

i meant to write foreign advisory services... sory for the typo and one more message!! :(

By Liat Friedman on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 9:02 pm:


I've decided to check this matter some more, only to realize this guy Copp is not only a fraud but a dangerous liar, plain and simple, so thank you Scott for enlighting me.
I found the following article truly useful as it discusses each of the points Copp's making, as well as discussing the man himself.



By Linda Gondo on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 10:11 am:

Apparantly there is a story that Japanese people used to tell their kids to help them deal with fear of earthquakes. Something about a rather comical looking enormous fish with big whiskers (for want of a better word) who used to live in the sea, but is now lost and is looking for the way home.
Every time the earth shakes, this is because the fish moving. Can anyone recommend a picture book with this story (English or Japanese) or if not, have I got the story right?
My four year old daughter is having trouble sleeping because she is afraid the earthquake will "get her".

Has anyone any ideas as to how to deal with earthquake fear in kids?Iam finding it hard to explain this scientifically in a way that she will understand. Does anyone have any suggestions?

By Trupti Gandhi on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 6:45 pm:

dear linda,

you could tell your daughter to draw and express... my son too was scared of earthquakes after he saw the news on TV... it is common at that age... now he think it is just an event that may or may not happen in your life...

you could read about family disaster plan and action on {} and}

me and the parents association in my ki'ds indian school had done a seminar for families and schools about preparedness... if you have a lot of email space i can send you the whole booklet we had printed... it covers how to handle the kids before, during and after a disaster... if you like i can send it whole or a part of it to you...

the witers were all professionals in their field and rest of it is research i did on the net for info for the same subject... the file is about 1 mb big and is in the pagemaker format...

i can change the format if you want the info... do let me know... on


By Norm Havens on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 7:20 pm:

I don't know of any English-language children's stories offhand, but the connection between earthquakes and the catfish is an old theme in Japanese folk religion, and spawned an entire genre of art called "namazu-e" or catfish pictures, mostly woodblock prints depicting the catfish. The catfish is supposed to be held in place by the *kaname-ishi* (pivot stone) at the Kashima Shrine up in Ibaragi Prefecture.
You can see reproductions of some of the catfish pictures at this site (in J):
Another excellent site is this next one; if you don't read J, just click on the items in the center and various catfish pictures will appear.

By Linda Gondo on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 8:19 am:

Thank you Norm for the links regarding the catfish pictures. I think this will be a great help. At the moment my daughter thinks the earthquake is a big scary monster who lives underground. Perhaps if I can metamorphasize this image into a funny big fish, "namazu-e", she can experience the whole thing differently.

Trupti, thank you also for your links to family disaster plans and I would be interested in receiving by email the booklet you are talking about. Word format or PDF format should be fine. Thank you for your trouble.


By Cornelia on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 11:52 pm:

I hope any JWK readers in Kyushu are OK! Sincerely, Cornelia
Rebuilding begins after Kyushu quake
The Asahi Shimbun
FUKUOKA--The number of people confirmed injured in Sunday's powerful earthquake drastically increased to 735 on Monday, while nearly 3,000 people were taking shelter at evacuation facilities.

Full-scale reconstruction work began by the Self-Defense Forces, prefectural police and other organizations.

Of those injured in Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures, at least 21 were in serious condition, police said.

About 2,800 people were living in evacuation facilities in Fukuoka city and its neighboring municipalities, local government officials said.


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