Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Shaky Islands

One thing you have to be aware of upon visiting Japan is earthquakes. Nowhere in Japan is safe from seismic activity. The entire country itself is a series of land formations produced by tectonic uplift and volcanic activity. Japan is often referred to as the most seismically active region in the world.

Earthquakes happen everyday in Japan. This shouldn’t be of major concern as the vast majority of quakes are so small that they go unnoticed. Nevertheless, if you are visiting, or are here on a longer stay, you do need to be aware that earthquakes are a possibility. If you come from an area that doesn’t experience earthquakes, they can be quite a scare. Fortunately, being a modern and developed country means that Japan is well-prepared for the big one.

Major earthquakes like the Hanshin and Niigata quakes have made Japanese authorities more prepared than ever. If you do find yourself in an earthquake in Japan, the best thing to do is wait it out in a safe place such as under a sturdy table or doorway. In most cases quakes aren’t strong enough to be life threatening. Stay calm and stay in a safe place. Do not run outside as you risk being struck by overhead power-lines, falling glass and other debris. If the quake has been strong enough to cause damage, follow the directions of any building wardens or authorities. You will be directed to an assembly point. All buildings and public spaces have designated “safe areas” for assembly in a disaster. Hotels and lodges always display where this is in each room.

As mentioned previously, most earthquakes won’t cause major damage, but they are fairly common in Japan and it is important to remember this while visiting here. Travel insurance that includes earthquake related injuries is always a prudent move.

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