Putting out a simulated fire at Saitama Prefectural Learning Disaster Center in Konosu

Disaster Prevention Day and Disaster Training centers, Saitama Japan 2020. One could say this whole year has been a disaster. And we certainly couldn’t have foreseen what this year had in store for us. Prevention? Yes, we could have done better to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, but hindsight is 2020! But Disaster Prevention Day and Disaster Prevention Centers are about the other type of disasters Mother Nature throws at us. The type that are prevalent in Japan: earthquakes, typhoons, tsunami and fires.

Disaster Prevention Day

When is Disaster prevention Day?

In Japan, Disaster Prevention Day is on September 1st annually. The date was chosen because it was the date of the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923.

There are usually several different events on for Disaster Prevention day. However, on account of the Coronavirus outbreak, this year there is very little on. Not even at the Disaster Prevention Centers around Japan. It remains to be seen if we will be rudely awoken by a disaster alarm at 6 am on the 1st, as has been customary for the last (near on) 100 years.

Disaster Prevention Training Center

Disaster Prevention Day and training center Konosu simulated earthquake
A couple experiencing an earthquake in a disaster prevention center

There are Disaster Prevention Training Centers all around Japan. In Saitama the main one is the Saitama Prefecture Center for Disaster Training in Konosu. Where you can experience an earthquake, a typhoon and a fire all in one day… all simulated, thankfully, and free!

Saitama Prefecture Center for Disaster Training

A report from our first visit in 2013.

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.

Experiences

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.

Earthquake Simulator

kids experiencing a simulated earthquake on disaster prevention day

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.

Simulated 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 Simulator

Disaster Prevention Center Typhoon with winds of 30kmph

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.

Placing an emergency call at the disaster prevention center

Impressions

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. For example, 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. Another invaluable lesson: how to make a toilet out of cardboard boxes!

A toilet made out of cardboard

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

Hours: Open from 9 am to 4.30 pm Tuesdays to Sundays, closed on Mondays.

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

8 Comments

  1. This sounds like a great place to bring kids! I have a few guests coming later this year with toddlers, and I’m always on the lookout for new kid-friendly spots. Especially coming from California, it might be a really useful experience for them!

    1. Author

      I didn’t expect that much from it, having (yet again) only skimmed the info, so I was quite impressed. On the downside it is not really suitable if there is only one adult and a baby. If hubby had of been with me I could have tried out more myself. The kids did get fed up with the toury part at some parts too, its not particularly long or anything its just that they’re young (4 and 2). But its free and its something different and practical to boot!

      1. Oooo ok thanks – that’s definitely good to know! I read that there’s also one in Tokyo (Tokyo Rinkan Park I think?), but it only simulates an earthquake. Have you ever been there? I can imagine that the kids prefer the ‘ride’ parts of it and not so keen on the info parts – just like a theme park! Haha Thanks for the heads up about this though. I’ll definitely put it on my list of suggestions.. especially if the weather isn’t cooperating 🙂

        1. Author

          Ah that one looks much better in that the earthquake is simulated in an elevator and you escape through a town. Our local one is just one little platform type thingy. I think I’ll be adding it to my list of “different” things to do in Tokyo!

  2. Fascinating! I’m curious to read more of your blog. It’s so interesting to hear about a museum dedicated to preparing for natural disasters. Thank you for liking mine. I hope you found what you were looking for, on it.

    1. Author

      The photo of the Kubota garden caught my eye and I enjoyed perusing your posts and photos. Japan has so many wonderful museums and there is always something different to try.


  3. you know I nearly had a heartache when I read the title of the post!

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