Tagged: earthquake

New Earthquake Emergency Shelters

Earlier this year, Mike McKinlay and I went to to the Gifu Prefecture Regional Disaster Management Center to try out the earthquake simulator. Being the only visitors all day (and introducing ourselves as big-time Canadian bloggers), the staff treated us like royalty! We were given a personal tour of the facility and they even filmed us trembling like little girls on the simulator.

A ground-shaking experience

The Earthquake simulator! The earthquake simulator, which went up to the maximum Shindo 7, was quite an experience. Japan’s Shindo is a measurement of intensity at a given location, whereas the Richter scale used in the West measures magnitude of an earthquake at its epicenter. Mike will be posting the videos on his own blog soon, along with his lame attempts to escape a burning house rocked by an earthquake in a virtual reality game. Update: Here’s Mike’s post.

The 150,000 yen cardboard box

On our tour of the management disaster center, we were shown the latest and greatest in modern emergency shelters – a cardboard box puzzle house called the Octagon.

Although there’s no mention of price on the manufacturer’s website, we were told you can buy this fantastic new solution to short-term housing problems for 150,000 yen. I asked whether the management disaster staff had already bought one for their own families, but they admitted the price was too high and should an earthquake occur they’d come down to the center to borrow one! I told them I quite understood, and that I would be racing here for my own cardboard house so they better be quick!

They then proceeded to talk us through the construction of the Octagon…

Emergency Shelter

STEP 1 – Grab your cardboard box puzzle house

There are two boxes weighing 41 kilograms each. The instructions recommend two people carry each box.

Step 1

STEP 2 – Find a somewhere to put it

You’ll need a 6m x 6m area, preferably flat, before you can build your new “compact house”.

Step 2

STEP 3 – Slot the panels together

For a nation that grew up with origami, putting this thing together is a doddle.

Step 3

STEP 4 – Put the roof on

You don’t need any special tools, just tape the roof on and you’re done. If there are three of you, you’ll have the house finished in about three hours.

Step 4

STEP 5 – Move the house

Now that the house is finished you can move it… quite how I’m not too sure. Like the guys in the instructions it might be best to just leave it where you built it.

Step 5

STEP 6 – Make a floor

If you flatten out the cases that contained the puzzle, you should have enough cardboard to cover the floor. It’s the equivalent of 6.5 tatami mats which is a reasonable size to live in.

Step 6

STEP 7 – Walk around inside

This critical step involves walking around inside the “tent” so you familiarize yourself with the height and don’t bump your head on the cardboard. The lowest part of the ceiling is 1.5m, and the highest is 2.2m, high enough for even Mike to stand up straight in. Apparently, there’s room for a family of five in this cardboard house, which sounds like a very tight squeeze to me.

Step 7

STEP 8 – Waterproof it!

The final step involves covering the house with waterproof sheets. With care, the cardboard tent will last six months, but you’re advised not to use it in heavy rainfall or strong winds (not that you’d have much choice). They do encourage you to cut out some windows, and when you’re finished, you can recycle the whole house!

Step 8

Stop by for a cuppa tea

The emergency cardboard puzzle house is awesome, just like camping in a tent. Mike and I had a cup of tea and wondered how much cheaper an actual tent would be…

Nick in a cardboard tent

Mike in a cardboard tent

Preparing for the big one

If you are worried about the big earthquake which is supposed to be coming sometime in the next 10,000 years, do yourself a favor and buy a cardboard box puzzle house! If you can read Japanese, go to Sago Mokuzai for more information. There’s also a FAQ worth reading. One question asks whether the Octagon comes with a toilet, and while I was hoping for a more creative answer involving constructing a toilet out of leftover cardboard, the answer is an honest, “No, it doesn’t come with a toilet”.

If you fancy riding the Shindo-7 earthquake simulator, find one in your area here (Japanese).

Ramsay Ramblings 4/30/2008

I’ve been feeling pretty grotty this last week. First Rikuto “got the byouki”, then Mami “got the byouki”, and now I’ve “got the byouki”. Although I’d love to sing a song about “getting the byouki” (getting sick), I’ll spare you this week, and share some more Ramsay Ramblings instead.

Magnitude 7 Earthquake Virtually Hits Gifu

Since my net buddy, Mike McKinlay came to visit last week, I took him to the Gifu Prefecture Regional Disaster Management Center for a free ride on the earthquake simulator. If you’ve never been on one, you really should try. I’m convinced my house would fall over if the big one hits. I’ll blog about our trip at a later date, but if you can’t wait, there’s this Japanese map that might help you find one in your area.

Fujita Yukihisa Keeps Pressing for 9/11 Answers

Remember that DPJ politician who grilled the Japanese Prime Minister about World Trade Center 7 and other suspicious events surrounding the September 11th terrorist attacks? Well, he’s back at it again, this time asking whether the government knew about the FBI’s Most Wanted page for Osama Bin Laden, which due to no evidence, makes no mention of 9/11. Of course, it will all be forgotten if the May Day terror drills go live! 😯

Reinstalling Windows Vista

I’m usually singing the praises of Microsoft’s latest OS, but I ran into a brick wall last week when I couldn’t download and install Service Pack 1. It went like clockwork on my wife’s computer, but I had to take advantage of Microsoft’s one-on-one tech support to get it working on my machine. “MS Betty” as I like to call her, was very helpful but her directions led me to an accidental reinstall, and I’m still getting things back to normal now. On the bright side, SP1 is now working, and better than that, Microsoft seem to have fixed the problems with IE7, so at last I can dump this poor excuse for a browser, Firefox, and go back to IE! 😛

Professional baby photos

We took Rikuto to Studio Alice for some professional photos today, and all I can say is “wow”. These guys know every trick in the book to persuade you into spending as much as possible. I’m still only at the beginning of Robert Cialdini’s The Psychology of Influence and Persuasion, but I recognized a few of the “weapons of influence” such as automatic shortcuts, e.g. See Disney character = Must take photo; the use of the contrast principle, e.g. Really expensive photos make expensive photos look cheap, and the rule of reciprocation, e.g. Make my son laugh and we will feel obligated to buy more. The whole “sales” experience was really impressive, and despite me knowing their secrets, they took me for $160! Anyway, we’ll get the photos in a couple of weeks and I’ll be sure to post them here.

Japan and the 13,000 Somethings

Quite often, you start searching the web for one thing, but end up with something far more interesting. That happened to me today when I randomly came across a number of Japan related stories based on the number 13,000. Here’s a summary with links to their sources.

World’s tallest building: The 13,000 ft, X-Seed 4000

This huge structure was proposed for Tokyo, Japan, and all construction plans were completed. At just over 13,000 feet (4,000m) tall, it would be larger than its inspiration, Mount Fuji. If built, construction would cost “somewhere between US$300-900 billion”, and it would house up to a million people. Sadly, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, it was only designed to earn the architects some recognition and was never intended to be built. [Sources: Inhabit.com, Wikipedia]

X-Seed 4000

13,000 Japanese poisoned after drinking contaminated milk

Despite its heavy criticism of China’s cardboard-bun scandal, Japan has been, and continues to be, rocked by food scandals of its own. Back in the year 2000, the most serious outbreak of food poisoning in Japan since the Second World War made almost 13,000 people ill after drinking contaminated milk. [Source: The Independent]

13,000 people expected to have lost jobs due to Niigata earthquake

The magnitude 6.6 quake that hit Niigata on July 16th, 2007 caused eleven deaths, a thousand injuries, and brought down 342 buildings. It was reported that almost 13,000 people would be out of work. [Source: Japan Today (expired article)]

Tokyo quake could kill 13,000

If a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit Shinjuku in Tokyo today, 13,000 people would likely be killed. That may sound a lot, but it is far less than the 140,000 victims of the last major quake to hit the capital, back in 1923. [Source: CNN]

13,000 Japanese students in China

In 2004, there were 70,000 Chinese students in Japan, and 13,000 Japanese students in China. I’m glad there are at least 13,000 Japanese that have a positive view of our neighbors! [Source: Glocom.org]

13,000 Japanese troops in Battle of Singapore banzai attack

On February 13th 1942, in the Battle of Singapore, 13,000 Japanese troops made an amphibious landing in the northwest part of Singapore. Along with existing troops in the country, they took control of the Pasir Panjang area. They faced strong resistance from Malay and British forces, who even defended against a formidable banzai attack. [Source: Wikipedia]

Japan’s Earthquake Warning System

Japan is prone to earthquakes and although most of them are small, they are quite common with announcements popping up on the TV screen alerting us to the most recent quakes. From time to time, a big one will come such as the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 or this year’s Noto earthquake. As frightening as these earthquakes were, neither compared to the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 which killed 142,000 people.

While we can’t predict with much accuracy when or where the next big earthquake will hit, scientists say Japan’s Tokai region is due for a big one. With this is mind, the country has been preparing itself with earthquake drills, strengthening its buildings, and selling emergency earthquake kits. Until now, all that remained was some kind of early warning system to give us a chance to dive for cover.

Earthquake Early Warning deviceOn October 1st, the Japan Meteorological Agency launched its Earthquake Early Warning system, which notifies people in Japan of an earthquake as it happens. Depending on how close you are to the epicenter, you have between zero and 20 seconds before it hits. We’ll be told via radio, TV, or if you buy one, a fancy little device that looks like a Tomy Toys tape player.

How it works

I try not to watch much TV, but there’s not much else to do with a sleeping baby on your lap, so I happened to be watching a program about the new early warning system. Two guys did a survey of people in the street, asking them what they’d do if they had ten seconds advance warning of a quake. Some of the answers were pretty dumb, such as phoning family members to warn them, or getting dressed. In fact, the two guys did a trial run of all the suggestions and timed them. Only three were possible to complete in the ten-second time limit. If I remember rightly, those were turning off the gas and getting under a table, grabbing a futon to wrap yourself in, and getting out the front door.

They then invited two families to try. The first family was a young couple with three small children. It took them about thirty seconds just to get out of the house. The second family included a rather old lady who, even though it was just a drill, had a panic attack and just ran around in circles!

Surely some people would benefit from just a few seconds, particularly doctors performing operations (and their patients – ouch!), train drivers and workers performing hazardous tasks. Machinery, elevators, conveyor belts and other mechanical things can also be shut down to minimize damage or injury.

Saving lives?

Athough it has its limitations, perhaps Japan’s Earthquake Early Warning system can save thousands of lives. If you had 10 seconds notice before an earthquake hit, what would you do to save yours?

Japanese manners – part 3

In part 1 of this series, you saw a video about dropping litter in bicycle baskets, and in part 2 I showed you a commercial aimed at stopping people from eating on trains. Both of these videos are part of an ongoing effort to improve manners in a country where you can pretty much get away with anything, because very few would dare tell you off.

The following video, sadly not the final version that made it onto national television, addresses a different problem. We know that Japanese people like to avoid confrontation, hence the need for the previous two commercials, but there is another, perhaps more serious problem caused by people’s “shyness”.

Because of Japan’s densely populated cities, there are hundreds of towering apartment blocks. These are homes to hundreds of people, many of whom are single, living alone. The problem is not knowing your neighbors. Let’s say you see someone suspicious lurking around the building, or perhaps there’s a fire. Would you warn your neighbors? If you hear someone screaming, or the building rattles in an earthquake. Would you check to see if your neighbors are okay? Most Japanese living in these huge apartment buildings wouldn’t.

This video shows two young guys in an elevator, both on their way down to throw out their rubbish. They probably meet at the same time every week to do the same thing, but never say a word. The man on the right is holding a newspaper with the headline, “Earthquake magntitude 5”, and the caption halfway through the video reads something like “Would you help your neighbor whose name you don’t know?” Finally, they both decide to introduce themselves and the video ends with “start conversation, start it yourself”.