On one of the days when we were in Tokyo, both my wife and I received an alert that popped up on our iPhones.
As we were in a bus at that time we were quite clueless and quite unsure on how to react. The only comforting factor was seeing other people in the bus dismissing the alert message which in a way indicates that it wasn’t something serious.
Eventually we got to know that it was an alert for Tsunami which has been lifted (phew!).
That message however made me a bit curious and to be honest nervous. What if a huge earthquake strikes Tokyo when I was there, what if a tsunami hits when I am enjoying the scenic view of Jogashima, how would I react? These questions came into my mind and to be honest I was scared. Coming from a country that has almost zero risk of major natural disasters I had never experience any earthquake or even tremors associated with earthquakes hundreds of miles away.
So we decided to google about earthquake preparations in Japan and we found out about Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center a place that educates public about earthquake and what it takes to prepare for the next big one.
Convinced with what we read online, we decided to head to Ikebukuro about 30 minutes away from Shibuya by train to have a “half day course” on earthquake and fire safety. Interestingly this place is also tagged as Ikebukuro Earthquake Musuem and appears on tripadvisor as an attraction so it is not only a typical learning centre but a fun one. How fun? We decided to try it out to find out.
Ikebukuro Fire Station
We were greeted by friendly personnel who speaks basic English but good enough for us to communicate. Visitors had a few options, in general you could go through a very detailed course, a quick couple of hours course or just try out the earthquake simulator.
We went for the quick course option which allows us tolearn about the risk of earthwuake to Japan, experience fire evacuation, putting out virtual fire and the earthquake simulator.
First stop, a classroom setting. Yes, similar to those you would see in Doraemon 😛
A very nice video about earthquake in Japan was shown. Despite it being a cartoon, tears were flowing in the room. Many lost their loved ones in past earthquakes. The Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 for example took 105,000 lives.
After the video, we were ushered to the upper floor for “practical training”.
Building evacuation exercise was quite cool.
Although the trainer does not speak English, she was helpful in trying to make us understand the technique in escaping buildings with fire and smoke. It is interesting to note that during and after earthquake, people died as a result of the many large fires that broke out due to the tremors. Some fires back then even developed into fire storms.
Hence the focus is on how to escape fire and smoke.
The next training focused on putting out a fire using fire extinguishers.
To be honest, I never use or even know how to use one.
Give it to the Japanese to create a fun way to learn. We got to try a “ virtual fire simulator” which we got to try using a real extinguisher.
A quick tour on previous earthquake photos.
The best part is of course the earthquake simulator. This is where we got to experience the tremors associated to 8-10 magnitude scale earthquake.
It may look simple to just take cover under the table but it is everything but that.
It turned out to be an educational 2 hours spent at Ikebukuro. While it is far from being touristy, I would recommend families that want to educate their kids about earthquake to visit this place. An interesting twist to a usual holiday I would say 🙂