Japan is no stranger to natural disasters. Earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis are not uncommon occurrences. At the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Centre in Tokyo, Japan, sometimes known as the Earthquake Museum, a fun and hands-on approach is taken towards disaster preparation training.
The Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center is located on the fourth floor of the Ikebukuro Fire Station.
Training at the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center
Training is conducted by instructors, both men and women, who are former Tokyo Fire Department employees. Drawing on their experience, they are able to share about what to do in the event of a disaster in a realistic manner.
One thing to note is that all instruction at the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center is done in Japanese. Groups of 10 of more can bring along their own interpreter. Alternatively, for non-Japanese speaking visitors, you just need to be game enough to follow along. When we visited, this was what we did and were still able to enjoy the unique experience.
Take note that you should book a time slot in advance to visit the Center. Different tours and activities are scheduled throughout the day. If you show up without an appointment, the Center may not be able to accommodate you if they are fully booked.
Experiences at the Fire Station
At the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center, there are four experience areas.
The Disaster Education Centre allows visitors to learn about the dangers of natural disasters and why it is important to prepare for them.
The Earthquake Simulation Section is an experiential area where visitors can learn what to do when an earthquake occurs. It can simulate various types of earthquakes on the Richter scale. It is suitable for ages 3 and up.
At the Smoke Simulation zone, visitors learn about the dangers of smoke and can experience escaping through a smoke-filled maze.
The Hands-on Firefighting experience area allows visitors to try putting out a fire during its initial stages. The hands-on experience with the fire extinguisher is only open to those aged 10 years old and above.
Earthquake Museum in Japan
We joined a group for the Earthquake Simulation exercise. The instructor started off with a talk in Japanese. Even though we were unable to understand the specifics of what she was saying, we could still understand enough through her gestures.
There was a slide show on what should be done when encountering an earthquake. As we watch the presentation, it became clear why falling objects posed such a danger when there is an earthquake. It is no wonder that the earthquake drill states to hide underneath a table.
Next, it was our turn to put what we had learnt into practice.
Groups of four or five got to take turns on the earthquake simulator. The simulator can recreate different magnitudes of earthquakes. To increase the level of realism, each simulation was based on different historical quakes such as the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and the more recent Kobe earthquake of 1995.
Soon, it was our turn to sit at the simulator. When the quake struck, we found ourselves hiding under the table, clinging on to the table leg while the world around us shook.
It was a memorable and fun experience. Plus, now we know what to do in the event of an earthquake.
Visiting the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center in Tokyo, Japan
A visit to the Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center is an interesting experience. For non-Japanese speakers, as long as you are willing to have an open mind and don’t mind tagging along, it can be an enriching experience.
Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center (aka Earthquake Museum)
Where: 2 Chome-37-8 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 171-0021, Japan