Discover Deep Japan

Earthquake Safety in Japan: A Comprehensive Guide for Travelers

Photo by Chandler Cruttenden on Unsplash

Japan, known for its rich culture, advanced technology, and breathtaking landscapes, is also a country prone to natural disasters, especially earthquakes. Located at the convergence of several tectonic plates, Japan experiences a high frequency of seismic activity. As a traveler in Japan, it is important to be prepared and knowledgeable about earthquake safety. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history of earthquakes in Japan, the seismic activity scale used, safety responses during and after earthquakes, and essential preparedness measures for travelers.

History of Earthquakes in Japan

Japan has a long history of devastating earthquakes. One notable event is the Great Kanto Earthquake that struck the Kanto plain, including Tokyo, in 1923. This earthquake resulted in the loss of over 100,000 lives, making it the deadliest earthquake in Japanese history. Another significant earthquake is the Southern Hyogo Earthquake, also known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which hit the city of Kobe in 1995. This earthquake caused extensive damage and claimed thousands of lives.

In more recent years, Japan experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, which triggered a massive tsunami along the Pacific Coast and resulted in widespread destruction and the Fukushima nuclear accident. Other regions, such as Tohoku in 2011, Kyushu in 2016, and Hokkaido in 2018, have also been affected by powerful earthquakes.

Understanding Earthquake Measurement in Japan

To accurately assess earthquakes, Japan utilizes the shindo scale, which measures the intensity of an earthquake at a specific location. The shindo scale ranges from one to seven, with higher numbers indicating more severe earthquakes. Shindo one represents a slight earthquake that is barely perceptible, while shindo seven signifies a severe earthquake causing significant damage. This scale provides valuable information about the impact an earthquake may have on the surrounding area and its inhabitants.

Earthquake Safety Responses

During an earthquake, it is crucial to know the appropriate safety responses to protect yourself and minimize the risk of injury. The first and most important rule is to remain calm. Panic can lead to poor decision-making and increase the chances of harm. If you are indoors, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a table or desk, and protect your head and neck. Avoid standing near windows or heavy objects that could fall and cause injury. If you are outside, move to an open area away from buildings, trees, and power lines.

After the shaking stops, it is essential to stay informed. Listen to a battery-powered radio or check for updates on your mobile device to receive the latest news and instructions from local authorities. Follow any evacuation orders or guidelines provided by officials. Be cautious of potential hazards such as aftershocks, damaged infrastructure, and the possibility of tsunamis in coastal areas.

Sample Call to Action Heading

Add a strong one liner supporting the heading above and giving users a reason to click on the button below.

Click Here

Preparedness for Earthquakes

Being prepared is key to ensuring your safety during an earthquake. Whether you are a resident or a traveler in Japan, it is crucial to have a disaster preparedness plan and a well-stocked emergency kit. Here are some essential items to include in your kit:

  • Emergency Food and Water: Store non-perishable food items and an ample supply of water for each person in your household or travel group. Aim for a minimum of three days’ worth of provisions.

  • First Aid Kit: Prepare a comprehensive first aid kit that includes essential medical supplies, prescription medications, and basic medical equipment.

  • Flashlight and Batteries: Pack a reliable flashlight and extra batteries to navigate in the dark during power outages.

  • Protective Clothing: Include sturdy shoes, gloves, and helmets in your emergency kit to protect yourself from debris and potential hazards.

  • Personal Documents: Make copies of important documents such as passports, identification cards, insurance policies, and contact information. Store them in a waterproof container or digitally.

  • Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contact numbers, including local authorities, embassy or consulate information, and the contact details of family and friends.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with the designated evacuation areas in your area of residence or travel destinations. Identify the safest routes to these locations and plan accordingly.

Earthquake Preparedness Tips for Travelers

As a traveler in Japan, it is essential to be aware of earthquake safety and take necessary precautions. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Research and Plan: Before your trip, research the earthquake-prone areas in Japan and consider adjusting your itinerary accordingly. Stay updated on earthquake news and advisories from reliable sources.

  2. Stay Informed: Upon arrival, familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and evacuation routes at your accommodation. Keep track of local news and follow any instructions from authorities.

  3. Stay Connected: Ensure you have a working mobile phone with a local SIM card or access to Wi-Fi to receive emergency alerts and stay in touch with loved ones.

  4. Be Mindful of Buildings: Pay attention to the structural integrity of buildings. Choose accommodations and public spaces that adhere to earthquake-resistant standards.

  5. Stay Calm and Follow Local Guidance: In the event of an earthquake, remain calm and follow the instructions of local authorities. Avoid spreading rumors or misinformation.

Sample Call to Action Heading

Add a strong one liner supporting the heading above and giving users a reason to click on the button below.

Click Here

Safety Measures in Public Spaces

When in public spaces, such as shopping centers, train stations, or tourist attractions, it is essential to be aware of safety measures and procedures:

  • Emergency Exits: Familiarize yourself with the locations of emergency exits in public buildings. Follow exit signs and evacuation routes during an earthquake.

  • Safety Announcements: Pay attention to safety announcements and instructions provided by staff or through public address systems.

  • Follow the Crowd: If you are unsure of what to do, observe and follow the actions of the local population. They are likely familiar with earthquake safety procedures.

Tsunami Awareness

In coastal areas, earthquakes have the potential to trigger tsunamis. If you are visiting a coastal region, it is crucial to be aware of tsunami evacuation zones, designated by local authorities. Familiarize yourself with the signs and sirens used to warn of an impending tsunami. If you hear a tsunami warning, immediately move to higher ground or an elevated location and follow evacuation instructions.


While earthquakes are a part of life in Japan, being prepared and informed can significantly enhance your safety during your travels. By understanding earthquake measurement, practicing appropriate safety responses, and having a well-stocked emergency kit, you can navigate the potential risks associated with seismic activity. Remember to stay informed, stay calm, and follow the guidance of local authorities. With the right knowledge and preparedness, you can enjoy your time in Japan while staying safe during earthquakes.