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  • John Daub: In Japan, an earthquake can happen at any time.

  • What do you do when one occurs?

  • So I called the Tokyo Fire Department to ask them the specific measures

  • that we should take when one happens.

  • And they told me they have a disaster learning center here in Sumida ward

  • between Kinshicho station and the Tokyo Skytree.

  • They also have an earthquake simulator that can simulate

  • the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011.

  • Keep watching until the end of this video because I'm going to share

  • with you my personal experience when the Great Tohoku Earthquake occurred.

  • Something that changed my life and the way I see this country.

  • Let's go to the Tokyo Fire Department's disaster learning center.

  • Intro music

  • In Japanese: Welcome

  • Peter von Gomm: ONLY in Japan

  • The Tokyo Fire Department knows the value in educating people.

  • It makes their job easier and it saves lives.

  • The Honjo Bosaikan, or Life Safety Learning Center, for disasters

  • is free to visit and gives great insight into how to survive

  • the worst disasters.

  • It's very family friendly with many things in English to help new foreign

  • residents learn too.

  • There are videos of catastrophic events and interactive quizzes.

  • You won't leave here without learning something useful.

  • This liquefaction simulator shows just how dangerous earthquakes can be

  • under the ground.

  • By definition, it occurs when water-logged sediments at, or near, the ground surface

  • lose their strength in response to the strong ground shaking.

  • The ground becomes liquid and swallows everything from the surface.

  • Besides earthquakes, Japan also has typhoons: hurricane-like storms

  • originating in the Pacific.

  • They bring heavy winds and rains, and this simulation helps us understand

  • why we should stay inside during a storm by experiencing it.

  • So we're going to try out this experience.

  • A rainstorm situation probably in the worse possible way.

  • Hana is going to be joining us.

  • Let's go inside and see how this works.

  • Unlike virtual reality simulators, this one you really can feel.

  • We were let inside the room with coats, boots, and masks

  • to a pole to hang on to.

  • Alright. Are you ready?

  • (Hana) I'm ready.

  • (John) Alright.

  • We knew what was coming but we didn't know what it would be like.

  • And we didn't have to wait long to find out.

  • [Water spray]

  • Ahhhhhhhh!!!

  • [Heavy wind and water]

  • I couldn't put my head up or let go of the railing.

  • It's easy to understand how one could lose control and be tossed into

  • an unfortunate situation.

  • Wow. That was the worst situation you could possibly go through,

  • perhaps, ever, in a rain storm.

  • How do you feel?

  • (Hana) Um -- WET!

  • (John) You feel wet. [Evil laughs] Haha.

  • This was not like any ride at an amusement park.

  • So although we're in a simulation situation it's kinda fun because we know

  • we're in a safe environment.

  • But to experience the kind of winds that does blow people away

  • really makes you think about, well, you have to be prepared.

  • And when this kind of wind and storm is out there?

  • Don't go outside. Stay inside and be safe.

  • And after experiencing it you can understand why.

  • And I think that's why this is pretty important.

  • I asked Imamura-san, director of the learning center, why he believes

  • these kinds of disaster simulations are so important.

  • (Imamura) For example, in an earthquake situation,

  • if someone who has never experienced one before

  • suddenly faces a strong magnitude,

  • they will naturally panic.

  • However, if they have prior training

  • with an earthquake simulator,

  • they could react more calmly

  • and make better decisions.

  • Our primary goal is to provide some practice

  • so that you can protect and

  • save your loved ones in a disaster situation.

  • (John) Regarding the topic of earthquakes,

  • what do you want international visitors to know?

  • (Imamura) In Japan, the infrastructure is built under strict

  • regulations to withstand strong earthquakes.

  • Thus, it's unlikely a building would collapse

  • during an earthquake.

  • So, in case of an earthquake, it is likely safer

  • to stays indoors.

  • But always remember to protect your head.

  • And rule number one is to stay calm.

  • However, although it can be safer indoors,

  • if you see objects that might fall,

  • evacuate the area as much as possible.

  • (John) This is the earthquake simulation room.

  • Dramatic music

  • It has been engineered to give visitors a serious shake exactly like some of

  • the worst earthquakes in Japanese history.

  • This is as real as it gets

  • you know, of course, to the real thing: an earthquake.

  • So now we're going to be entering the simulation room.

  • This is where it all happens.

  • A chance for you to try some very serious earthquakes.

  • Now in Japan, as I said before, earthquake is not measured in magnitude, but shindo.

  • It's important to understand how Japan measures earthquakes.

  • Magnitude is an estimate of the relative size or strength of an earthquake

  • from "1" to "10", although "9.4" is the highest known event.

  • This scale sums up the size and strength of the numerical figure.

  • The 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake measured a "9.1" and is the fourth

  • greatest earthquake in recorded history.

  • The Japanese system is different though.

  • The "shindo intensity scale" measures the degree of shaking in the event of

  • an earthquake on a scale from "0" to "7".

  • This is different because it doesn't measure the size or intensity but the actual

  • shaking in the areas impacted by the release of energy.

  • Here's the scale.

  • You don't really feel it until shindo 3.

  • At shindo 5, there are variations: a lower and upper.

  • At shindo 6, you can't stand up.

  • At shindo 7, you lose all body control and you may be thrown into the air.

  • Shindo 7 earthquakes have only been measured four times in Japan.

  • We're about to simulate two of them right now.

  • Wow.

  • Uh, this one is going to be the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated Kobe.

  • It's extremely strong and they can simulate that here so

  • we're going to give that a try.

  • Ok.

  • That button reads "shindo 7".

  • The Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Kobe on January 17, 1995 at 5:46 AM.

  • Alright. Alright.

  • The city was asleep. Imagine being in your bed as it starts off this violently.

  • Oh.

  • Oh. OH!

  • This one!

  • This fell down over.

  • Aww.

  • That.. it's still going on.

  • Just because it kinda settles down, the earthquake, sometimes, it's not over.

  • You can feel it. There are aftershocks as well.

  • I can still feel some of the rumbling.

  • Um, the simulation actually has sound effects of the things going on around you

  • which is incredible.

  • It seems too real.

  • 6434 people are believed to have lost their lives.

  • The epicenter was very close to the city of Kobe causing catastrophic damage.

  • This triggered over 300 fires which ravaged many parts of the city.

  • That one you can't even prepare for.

  • It just suddenly happens.

  • The earthquake just hits you.

  • There's nothing you can do in that kind of a situation.

  • You have a very short amount of time to react.

  • So that's why this kind of training is important for you to realize that

  • at a moment, these things, these earthquakes can strike and the way

  • you react can save your life.

  • So you can see we're resetting it.

  • Everything has moved.

  • This table is very heavy.

  • (Imamura) The inside is made with steel.

  • (John) Wow.

  • This is the simulation of the 3/11 earthquake.. wow.. in Tohoku.

  • Ok, ok. I'm ready.

  • I have some bad memories of this.

  • Oh, oh!

  • Oh my gosh.

  • (John whimpers)

  • Everything is moving all around me.

  • You can feel just this rumbling going up and down.

  • The entire trailer here is shaking.

  • It says it lasts about a minute.

  • I'm just going to go underneath this table here

  • because I just don't know what else to do.

  • Woah! WOAH!

  • This is really, really, long.

  • (John breathes heavily)

  • That.. brings back a lot of memories that I never wanted to experience again.

  • That was quite an experience that I've been through before.

  • And just the length of it.

  • At first you don't know what to do.

  • You're like a deer in headlights when an earthquake like this hits.

  • And then, anything that you've had, any kind of training will kick in.

  • You get underneath the table or you brace yourself somewhere.

  • My first reactions were not good.

  • Many years ago when I was in that earthquake here in Tokyo.

  • But to experience it again, it brought back some really tough memories.

  • Brought back some really tough memories.

  • The simulation made me remember

  • exactly how it was on March 11th.

  • How did it recreate the pattern so accurately?

  • (Imamura) In Japan, when an earthquake occurs, we use

  • multitudes of seismometers to record the patterns.

  • This helps us predict earthquakes more accurately.

  • We then retrieve this information and

  • use it to program our simulators.

  • John: Earthquakes happen often here.

  • When relatively small ones occur,

  • locals tend to not do anything.

  • They usually continue whatever they were doing.

  • But international visitors immediately

  • jump under the tables.

  • (Imamura) Yes, that is the correct reaction.

  • Japanese people have gotten used to

  • earthquakes a little too much.

  • As you experienced earlier, even when

  • an earthquake may feel weak initally,

  • it can suddenly increase power.

  • We can never predict the strength of an earthquake.

  • That is why we must always take

  • precautions when one occurs.

  • John: At a nearby park I reflected back on that tragic day: March 11, 2011.

  • That was actually hard for me to be in that earthquake simulation

  • during the exact thing, the exact pattern, of what happened on March 11, 2011.

  • It was like after the earth...., that simulator ended, a lot of the memories

  • came back to me, of that day.

  • I was at home in front of the computer editing videos,

  • and I was frozen. I was in my seat in front of my desk

  • and I didn't know what to do.

  • I looked out the window behind me and my building, I'm on the 6th floor, it was

  • swaying like I was on a boat.

  • I think about twenty seconds into it, I finally got up and I put my hand on

  • the doorknob and thought about going outside

  • but then I didn't.

  • I just stayed there in the doorway.

  • And then it just started to go down again.

  • My heart was racing. I was really freaked out.

  • The first thing I did was call my friends. Call people that I knew and ask them

  • if they were okay.

  • Ask them, "What happened?"

  • I went on to the television. I picked it up off the floor and watched NHK

  • and you could see that they had experienced the same thing in the studio across town.

  • And a lot of people left Japan in 2011.

  • And this channel was started as a reaction to a lot of information not being

  • conveyed correctly maybe to the public.

  • To just build a positive image about Japan.

  • That's why I started this channel.

  • So that's why this episode really does mean a lot to me to be able to do.

  • Because I experienced it myself.

  • No matter the amount of training you do, an actual shindo 7 earthquake is going

  • to frighten you.

  • You will feel helpless.

  • The entire world around you will be unstable.

  • The impact goes beyond just the shaking.

  • Living in Japan means you must learn your area's disaster plan and be as ready

  • as you can be if the "big one" does occur.

  • I hope you learned something.

  • Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.