Category Archives: MUSEUMS & EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES

Disaster Training | An earthquake, a typhoon and a fire all in one day…

… all simulated, thankfully! Friday, in our ever enjoyable quest to try something new everyday, we ventured to the Saitama Prefecture Center for Disaster Training in Konosu. I was very impressed with the set-up and experiences on offer at this free center. I was also suitably impressed with the building itself, built to withstand an earthquake of any magnitude, it is modern and pristine.

If you are a first time visitor you are shown an introductory video upon arrival. Then a guide walks you through the more dangerous experiences you can try. After that time you are free to look around and use the other resources available.
Experiencing an earthquake simulated at seismic intensity 7Experiencing a simulated earthquake at "weak 6"
First up was the earthquake simulator. The family before us had tried an earthquake simulated at the highest seismic intensity on the Japanese scale of 7. As I had the baby on my back in the Ergo I could not use the simulator myself, but my preschoolers tried a “weak 6”. They thought they were at an amusement park and the point of the operation was a little over their heads as they laughed through the experience. Although, in recounting his adventures 4 year old was able to tell hubby what he should do if an earthquake happens. I’m really pleased he took something away from the experience.

Coming out of a simulated fire  Putting out a fire

Next they got to walk through a simulated fire in a building with 7 doors. The smoke they use is not dangerous to health, but again not suitable for the baby, so my preschoolers went with the other family using our guide. They weren’t fazed by it and didn’t find it scary. They had to use handkerchiefs over their mouths so not to inhale too much of the “purin” (Japanese dessert pudding) scented vapour they use to simulate smoke in a fire. After that they got to try putting out a fire, a computer programmed one on a big screen, with a real fire extinguisher.

Typhoon with winds of 30kmph DSCF0891

Lastly in the tour, you can try a simulated typhoon with winds reaching upto 30 metres. My kids were too young to try it, but they watched in awe as a family tried it. In winds that strong houses blow away. They could barely hold on to the pole in front of them and explained after, as it gets stronger you are unable to keep your eyes open. I definitely want to go back and try it as I don’t ever plan to get the experience in real life… I hope! After that we had a look around. They have a couple of theatres, one was showing a cartoon of what to do in various emergencies, which the kids really enjoyed. We all also got to place an emergency phone call.
A toilet made out of cardboard

I found it all very interesting and I will go again in the future. I’ve added it to a list of places to bring my Irish family when they visit next! I got quite a bit out of it too. I learned the correct way to protect yourself during a strong earthquake as well as facts about earthquakes to date. I learned the danger regions in this prefecture. I would never have known only for today’s experience, that when placing an emergency call from a Japanese payphone you need to push the red emergency call button before dialling 119. I also learned how to make a toilet out of cardboard boxes!


Information

The Saitama Prefecture Center for Disaster Training in Japanese 埼玉県防災学習センター

Address: 30 Fukuro, Konosu City

Access: 25 minute walk from Fukiage Station, Takasaki Line, or you can get a community bus from North Konusu Station in the direction of Fukiage, alight at Apita and it is a 5 minute walk. By car it is beside the Fukuro crossroads on route 17. There are 15 free parking spaces.

Website: http://www.bousai-gakusyu-saitama-ht.jp/ (Japanese only)

Toddler friendly Hakone Open Air Museum

Hakone Open Air Museum was the first of its kind in Japan and today it remains one of the most popular due to its harmonious balance of art and nature.  The Museum is most known for its outdoor sculptures, but it also has a number of indoor museums with paintings, prints, ceramics and sculptures.  One of the indoor museums houses their Picasso collection, which has more than 300 items.

What I love about this museum is that it is great for children, even toddlers.  Below are some photos of the activities available to children;

The “Garden of Stars” is a life-size maze for all ages. You can watch from the top or go down into the maze and try it for yourself.

The “Woods of Nets” is a fun space for kids of all ages. The floor beneath the swings and the climbing maze of the nets is padded. There are low down entrances into the climbing maze, that even toddlers can climb into.

The “Curved Space – Diamond Structure” is another type of climbing space. Smaller children would need to be accompanied by older children or adults.

The “Symphonic Sculpture” is a tower in the centre of the museum.  There are great views of the surrounding landscape from the top of the tower.

Other facilities

They loan out baby strollers and wheelchairs for free, subject to availability of course.  They also have free lockers, for storing small items of luggage, available. There is a foot spa located beside the Gallery Cafe and Shop. There are two restaurants as well as two cafes. We ate in the “Bella Foresta” restaurant, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant. There wasn’t a huge selection, but it was big enough to have something for everyone. There are at least six male and female bathrooms throughout the museum and three multi user toilets which have baby changing facilities.

Information

The museum is open all year round from 9am to 5pm, last entry at 4.30pm.  Children up to five years old can enter for free.  For up to date entrance fees for older children and adults, please see their website.  When we went in 2011 we accessed the museum by car and it was well sign posted and easy to find.  The parking at that time was 500円 for the day.  The museum is a two minute walk from Chokoku no Mori station on the Hakone Tozan Line.   There is also a bus that goes from JR Odawara Station or Odakyu Hakone Yumoto Station to Ninotaira Iriguchi Station which is a five minute walk from the museum.

Address and contact details

Ninotaira, Hakone-Town, Kanagawa-Prefecture, 250-0493 Japan
Tel: 0460-82-1161 Fax: 0460-82-1169
Restaurant and shop information: 0460-82-1141
www.hakone-oam.or.jp