For decades millions of residents in and around Tokyo Japan have lived with the knowledge that someday another major earthquake - like the M7.9 quake that struck shortly before noon on September 1st, 1923 - will again level the city.
The timing of the 1923 quake, at lunchtime, meant many people were cooking over open fires when it struck, and that – combined with winds from an offshore typhoon – contributed to the firestorm that swept Tokyo.
Estimates vary, but more than 100,000 people are believed to have perished. Since 1960, September 1st has been designated as an annual "Disaster Prevention Day" across all of Japan, an event that is taken very seriously nationwide.
But as memories of old disasters fade, the risk of seeing the next one grows nearer.
Like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle - Tokyo has lived under the specter of the `big one' for decades, and finding ways to keep the preparedness message fresh, alive, and relevant for each new generation is a major challenge.
Faced with a similar dilemma five years ago, our own CDC launched a preparedness campaign where Zombies became a metaphor for an unthinkable disaster.
For more on this highly successful campaign, see The CDC And The Zombie Apocalypse, which eventually expanded into a 2-part Graphic Novel preaching preparedness, and a number of tie-in posters and T-Shirts.
Given the universal popularity of Manga - highly stylized graphic novels - which are read by people of all ages in Japan, and encompass a broad range of genres - it only makes sense that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government would use this medium to promote earthquake preparedness.
Particularly in light of several recent major quakes on the southern island of Kyushu, and predictions by leading seismologists that `the big one' grows more likely for Tokyo with every passing day. A few previous blogs on the topic include:
Today Bloomberg News carried a report (Tokyo Races Against Quake That Will Shake World on `X' Day) that examines Tokyo's preparedness and messaging efforts, and mentions both the Earthquake Manga and a 300-page citizens preparedness guide.
The article only linked to the Japanese version of the Manga - so I started poking around the Tokyo Metro Government website until I found an English language version of both the full 300 page preparedness guide (see below) and Manga.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has compiled a manual called “Disaster Preparedness Tokyo” (Tokyo Bousai*) to help households get fully prepared for an earthquake directly hitting Tokyo and other various disasters.
“Disaster Preparedness Tokyo” is tailored to the various local features of Tokyo, its urban structure, and the lifestyles of its residents, and contains easy-to-understand information on how to prepare for and respond to a disaster．This information will be useful now and in the event of an emergency.
*“Bousai” is Japanese for “disaster preparedness”Cover(PDF:130KB)
Introduction, Table of Contents, Symbol Mark(PDF:1.3MB)
01 Simulation of a Major Earthquake (P14-79) (PDF:3.9MB)
02 Let's Get Prepared
Disaster Preparedness Actions (P80-141) (PDF:3.7MB)
03 Other Disasters and Countermeasures (P142-173) (PDF:1.3MB)
04 Survival Tips (P174-235) (PDF:3.1MB)
05 Disaster Facts and Information You Should Know (P236-321) (PDF:1.9MB)
Manga comic: "TOKYO 'X' DAY" (PDF:4.5MB)
Tokyo Metropolitan Disaster Prevention Map
Although geared for a Japanese audience, this incredibly detailed Earthquake & disaster guide would be of value to anyone, no matter where they live. It also has brief sections on surviving floods, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, terrorist attacks and even pandemics.
For a California-centric guide, you will want to check out the 100 page L. A. County Emergency Survival Guide.
Sunday, April 30th marks America's Preparathon!, and FEMA, Ready.gov, the CDC, and a bevy of other state and federal agencies would love it if Americans took individual preparedness as seriously as the residents of Japan.
AMERICAN RED CROSS http://www.redcross.org/