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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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)