Monday, May 25, 2015

Living in an earthquake-prone country

About one month has passed since the latest powerful earthquake in Nepal. The scenes from Nepal look total devastation. It must be an unbelievably tough test of courage and perseverance for Nepalese. Nepal and its people are in my prayers and thoughts.
Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, Japan, of which epicenter was northern Awaji-shima Island showed how devastating when a powerful earthquake hit a large city.  Kobe people were totally unprepared believing big earthquake wouldn't strike Kobe.

Photos are from my latest overnight trip to Awaji-shima Island.
When my husband and I travel together, we tend to invite rain against weather forecast.
The layers of mountains and shore of Shikoku seen from the south of the island.

Source, here

Awaji-shima is linked with Tokushima Pref., Shikoku, by Onaruto Bridge

and is linked with Kobe by Akashi Ohashi Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge.
Main industries are dairy farming  (dairy cattle and beef cow for Kobe Beef), growing flowers...

.... agriculture (rice, onions, lettuce, and other vegetables)...

... fisheries  (sea bream, abalone, turban shell, sand eel, wakame see weed, and “Torafugu”, a kind of globefish, farming)

.... tourism for Naruto Whirlpools, Awaji Puppet Theater Company, natural beauties, and many others.

Southern port of Fukura

Preserved Nojima Fault at Hokutan-cho Earthquake Memorial Park
 shows how the movement in the ground cuts across roads, hedges and other installations.

Many lessons were learned from the Great Hanshin Earthquake. A reassessment of the building regulations for both private residences and public offices as well as transport infrastructure were enforced. The newly built constructions are earthquake proof. The damages to newly constructed buildings would be slight thanks to the latest technology, massive shock absorber or another method which allows the base of a building to move semi-independently to its superstructure, reducing the shaking caused by quakes.  For those trapped, almost all the local governments have blankets and earthquake emergency kits, including dry rations, drinking water, basic medical supplies. At schools, children go through earthquake drills regularly. It’s much better than having air-raid drills, anyway.

It’s almost impossible to perfectly predict and avoid earthquakes but possible to minimize damages if you prepare well and are determined to protect yourself.  So, what will you do when you feel a big tremor?  Go head-first under the table or desk. Most of injuries are from falling objects. The first thing to do is to look to your own safety.  Stay calm and act steadily.

When you’re at home, try to turn off gas just after the quakes calm down. Don’t rush outdoors, but secure the exit in case.  A pair of slippers in the house is a help when you walk in the mess of the rooms.

When you have to go out, bring your emergency provisions with minimum belongings. Don’t use elevators. Pay attention to broken or dangling electric wires and be alert for aftershocks. Stay off from buildings and walls to avoid falling debris like roof tiles, signboards, or broken windowpanes.

These are what to do beforehand: Check your home and improve anti-earthquake measures: Apply plastic films to windowpanes and cupboards to keep broken glass from falling: Don’t place large pieces of furniture in bedrooms or evacuation route: Store emergency provisions such as food, bottled water, for at least a week as well as flashlights, portable radios, a first-aid kit, and so on.

Flowers flow like the Milky Way at Awaji Hanasajiki overlooking the sea and meadows.
Situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", Japan is one of the most seismically active nations. Deadly earthquakes have shuttered the community periodically since the ancient times. I’m not over-worried like many other Japanese people but can’t help but have quiet despair or feel resignation to the will of Nature. My heart aches and is warmed up at the same time to see the people who are fragile in the powerful force of nature but resolute with light within when immersed in the darkness.


  1. I am so sorry for the people of Nepal. It seems particularly hard for them because it is a poor country and the buildings are not designed to modern standards. I was interested in your advice about what to do when there is an earthquake. I had read about it because when we took our trip to Japan as you may remember we were also planning to visit New Zealand and California, which are also big earthquake zones. Your suggestions were better than the ones in the books, perhaps because the books did not explain their advice. I had not thought about electrical cables or falling objects.

    I hope you enjoyed your trip despite the grey weather.

  2. Hello Yoko, Your moody skies are a great backdrop for the colorful photos you took! I like the tidy patterns of the fields and the vivid blooms. I have been seeing gray skies in CO, too. Nature has been on the rampage lately in many areas. Here in the US, we are having flash floods and tornadoes which rip through communities leaving devastation and death in their wake. I have been in areas during earthquake tremors both in CA and New Zealand. Occasionally, I have even felt a slight tremor in CO. However, in none of these experiences was there any damage. I know that the people of Japan must be more aware than most about what to do in case of an earthquake. Your suggestions make sense. Here in the mountains of CO, we fear forest fires in the summer and are aware of what to do in case of an emergency. Nature is both beautiful and mighty.

  3. It must be so hard living in an eathquake zone and very frightening too. I have been thinking a lot about the people of Nepal and the huge difficulties involved in helping them as their country is so remote and very poor.
    I seem to recall my husband being told to stand in a doorway if he felt tremors whilst travelling abroad for the UN - I think that the reasoning being that the wall would either fall in front or directly behind you, but don't know if this makes sense or not.
    I love your first photo with its moody colours, and all the flowers you saw on your trip. Are the flowers in the 5th photo Ranunculus?

  4. Det är fasansfullt att få uppleva nåt sånt.Inte kunna göra nåt bara stå där och vänta tills det är över. Sen se all förödelse och försöka hitta sitt. Usch man blir rädd när man tänker på det. Tur att ni som är nära får lär er att hantera det första viktiga. Vi har också känt av skalv här men inte så att det blir förstört men att det ruskar i marken Det är otäckt bara det.
    Det är många fina blommor på dina bilder som man blir glad av. Här längtar vi efter värmen och att blåsten ska lägga sig det blir så kyligt av den.
    Ha en fin och skön vecka
    Kram Meta

  5. We must certainly take preventative measures and precautions seriously and your points are excellent. I too live in an earthquake zone where they say a truly big quake is due. Little quakes happen here often but I remember experiencing a particularly powerful one as a young girl in my home … it was as if our house was a ship swept up by a big ocean wave. The loud rattling and shaking afterward was even more terrifying. The quakes in Japan, New Zealand and more recently in Nepal make our vulnerabilities clear. It makes me wonder if we ever can be prepared enough should the earth at our feet crack in two. And it makes me angry and sad that despite such threats we continue to subject our fragile earth to bombs and explosives, stirring things up as if one corner of the world does not affect the whole.

  6. This is such a poignant and powerful post! I had never thought of you living in an earthquake-prone region. My ignorance is showing. I've only experience a mild one - many years ago in the mountains of California. They must be terrifying. Your post should be promoted throughout the area as you have so many excellent suggestions as to how to deal with such an event.

    I also want to thank you for the most interesting photographs. They are all beautiful, of course, as usual. I love that bridge photo...and I did not know that that was the world's largest suspension bridge.

    One last thing - it is good to know that the authorities have instituted stricter building codes and that preparations have been made for emergency situations.

    Stay safe, please. We need your gentle spirit and your beautiful photographic touch!

  7. おはようございます。

  8. I can understand this Yoko because I am also living in Earthquake sensitive area... very knowledgeable post...

  9. Living in danger but with beauty around you...
    Thanks for your post.

  10. Japan and earthquakes - an inextricable knot and neverending story.
    Or in other words: Two sides of the same coin. Though Japan is definitely the best prepared country in the world with regard to earthquakes nature has always an "advantage". You really never (exactly) know where, when and how strong the next strike will occur - in defiance of all predictions.
    So all you can do is to be well prepared - and to pray not to be affected when the next quake will rise.
    All the best from nearly earthquake-free Germany,

  11. Hello, Yoko.

    Your wonderful photographic works, with which you give us some beautiful moments to share them through your blog.

    Congratulations and warm greetings from Gran Canaria - (Espña) Canary Islands.

    See you soon ....

  12. 貴重なレッスンありがとうございます。 避難用のリックを準備しなければとこの頃強く思います。うちの教会でも、72 hour kit を作るようによく言われてます。 1995年偶然にも叔父の法事の為に、日本に来ていました。九州の方でしたので、もちろん被害はなく、朝のニュースで知りました。 とにかく怖かったです。無事にアメリカに帰れるだろうかと心配しました。 琵琶湖はまだ行った事はありません。夫と息子が2011年の地震の後片づけのボランティアした後、プチ旅行で近くのホテルに泊まったそうです、、、ポストの写真が美しくて、地震の話とかけ離れ、申し訳ないような気がしますが、うっとりしてしまいます。 

  13. こんばんは。オーバーナイトトリップとは、お若いですね。四国の山並みがきれいです。地震の時には、窓ガラスが飛び散って歩けなくなるので、夜、寝るときに傍らに、スリッパと懐中電灯が必要とよく言われます。
     淡路花さじきの写真も美しいです。 私の行ったときは、花博のせいか、期待したほどではありませんでした。

  14. Dear Yoko. Thank you for the reminder and helpful advice. You do live in a seismically active zone, but that doesn't make the rest of the globe less vulnerable. You are very brave, so let your heart rest. God save you!
    Actually, I called on to ask your permission to publish one of your spring pictures in my blog; of course with a link and reference to yours. I am planning to write about the last days of spring and publish haiku on the topic. What would you say?
    Thank you in advance, waiting for your reply.

  15. Your photos are so beautiful - as is Japan!

  16. シExcelente post. Muitas informações e fotos maravilhosas.
    As flores são colírio para os olhos.

    Ótimo fim de semana!
    Muita paz e muita harmonia!
    ❤ه° ·.

  17. Lovely to meet you. We too are on the Pacific rim, prone to earthquakes, our last one in Los Angeles destroyed our house. We learn from each one.

  18. Yes, no one expects to be in an earthquake. You have shared very good information. That photo of the fault is impressive and shows the drama of what can happen. your other photos are lovely and interesting, each one. Thank you for sharing this.

  19. You are certainly giving us all good advice. I can only imagine the terror of being in an earthquake. We have very minor ones here occasionally - just a bit of shaking and rattling. It is good that your country does so much to prevent damage by building earthquake proof structures.


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