The Magnitude 7 Earthquake Simulator
Bosaikan is a Japanese public facility for risk preparedness and first-aid training, located in Ikebukuro, Toshima ward, in the north-west of the capital. In this "Life Safety Learning Center" operated by Tokyo Fire Department, visitors can experience earthquake drills on a simulator.
The Great Tohoku earthquake of 2011, March 11 on the north-eastern Pacific Coast of Japan reminded the world that the archipelago was prone to an intense seismic activity on a daily basis. Many travelers in Japan have experienced several earthquakes (many did not however), but rarely of a severe intensity. With the Bosaikan’s earthquake simulator, it is possible to prepare for the onset of a powerful earthquake.
Public Center for Risk Preparedness
The place is not very famous among tourists, as everything is in Japanese. However, even if you do not speak Musashi’s language, the friendly staff will welcome you all the same. Bosaikan offers a comprehensive tour (in less than two hours) of several "activities" related to the prevention of natural disasters and accidents, including:
- The earthquake simulator, of Intensity 7 on the Shindo scale (the highest intensity),
- A smoke maze in a room and a corridor from which one must escape (while some doors are locked),
- Fire fighting drills with extinguishers (in what looks like a big arcade game), and,
- A movie about the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake (also pictured in Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises in 2013).
It is also possible to choose only one activity; either way, just show up at Bosaikan’s reception desk and you will be informed of the time slots available.
Earthquake simulation drills in Japan
We were particularly interested in preparedness for earthquakes. The activity begins with several minutes of explanations on how earthquakes work (only in Japanese), and a brief history of the deadliest ones in Japan. Then comes the core of the experiment: the simulation. Groups of four participants are allowed on a platform elevated on jacks to experience various situations (Kanto 1923, Kobe 1995, Tohoku 2011, etc.). After a few seconds of a movie to immerse in the ambiance, the first shakings start.
The aim is to learn the reflex of diving under the table to take shelter while firmly grasping one of its legs until the end of the tremors. After this realistic experience, the staff gives other good practice advice in case of an earthquake.
We filmed the experience of another group that you can watch in the video below:
Ikebukuro’s Bosaikan offers an interesting visit, fun and instructional, that we strongly recommend if you are interested in such an experience or if you dread the "Big One". All activities are of course supervised and without any risk. It is an ideal place to go on a rainy ☔️ day in Tokyo, all the more as everything is free.