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Earthquake & Volcanos in Japan

Wild bears in Hokkaido = Adobe Stock

Earthquake & Volcanos in Japan

In Japan, earthquakes occur frequently, from small tremors not felt by the body to large fatal earthquakes. Many Japanese feel a sense of crisis not knowing when natural disasters will occur. Of course, the possibility of actually encountering a large natural disaster is very low. Most Japanese have been able to live over 80 years. However, this sense of crisis has a major influence on the spirit of Japan. Humans can not conquer nature. Many Japanese feel that it is important to live in harmony with nature. In this article I will introduce the relatively recent earthquake and volcanic eruption.

Earthquake in Japan

If you stayed in Japan for a few years, you will experience at least one small earthquake on your body. Japanese buildings are designed not to break even if a big earthquake occurs. Therefore, there is no need to be afraid. However, if you stayed in Japan for decades, there is a possibility of encountering a big earthquake. In 2011, when the Great East Japan Great Earthquake occurred, I was working in a skyscraper in Tokyo and experienced the building shaking greatly.

East Japan great earthquake disaster

East Japan great earthquake disaster, March 11, 2011

East Japan great earthquake disaster, March 11, 2011

The Great East Japan Earthquake (Higashi-Nihon Daishinnsai) is a very big earthquake that struck northern Honshu on March 11, 2011. More than 90% of the approximately 15,000 victims died due to the tsunami that occurred after the earthquake.

After the Great Hanshin Earthquake that occurred in 1995, earthquake-proof construction has been actively carried out in Japan to prevent buildings from collapsing due to earthquakes. Because of this, in the Great East Japan Earthquake, buildings collapsed by the earthquake were not so many. However, the tsunami caused the damage to be enormous.

The tsunami also hit nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture. As a result of this influence, three nuclear reactors meltdown and radioactivity leakage occurred. Approximately 150,000 people were forced to evacuate.

There is a proverb in Japan saying "Great natural disaster comes to us when we forget the last one."  Actually, over 100 years ago, a big tsunami struck the northern part of Honshu. However, we forgot about the fear of the tsunami.

The nuclear power plant was designed to bear even if a big tsunami struck, but in reality, the tsunami destroyed the nuclear power plant. By experiencing this catastrophe, the Japanese once again realized the fear of nature.

Great Hanshin Earthquake

Ruins from Kobe Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 preserved as a reminder for destructive power of nature at Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan = Shutterstock

Ruins from Kobe Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 preserved as a reminder for destructive power of nature at Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan = Shutterstock

The Great Hanshin Earthquake (Great Hanshin Earthquake) is a major earthquake that hit Kobe and its surrounding areas on January 17, 1995. Kobe is a large city located approximately 30 kilometers west of Osaka. In this major earthquake, more than 6,000 people died.

I lived in Kobe for several years until 1994. When this earthquake occurred, I lived in Tokyo. When I heard the news of the earthquake, I quickly went to Kobe. The city of Kobe that I loved was totally altered.

This great earthquake was a shock to many Japanese people. Because the earthquake destroyed modern highways and buildings. The Japanese recalled the fear of nature. After this earthquake, seismic reinforcement works of buildings, roads, etc. advanced in Japan.

Great Kanto Earthquake

Ruins of burned streetcars after the 1923 Tokyo earthquake The Great Kanto earthquake had a reported duration between 4 and 10 minutes Sept. = Shutterstock

Ruins of burned streetcars after the 1923 Tokyo earthquake The Great Kanto earthquake had a reported duration between 4 and 10 minutes Sept. = Shutterstock

The Great Kanto Earthquake is a major earthquake that hit the Kanto region including Tokyo on September 1, 1923. Approximately 140,000 people died. At that time, there were many trees houses in the downtown of Tokyo. When the earthquake occurred, people used fire to make lunch. Many people burned to death as the houses ignited and burned. Tokyo suffered a great deal of damage in this earthquake. The economy deteriorated, which also led to political turmoil and the rise of the military.


Volcanos in Japan

Molten lava erupts from Sakurajima Kagoshima Japan = Shutterstock

Molten lava erupts from Sakurajima Kagoshima Japan = Shutterstock

There are about 108 active volcanoes in Japan. The main volcanoes are as follows.

  • Mt. Fuji : This volcano has recently erupted in 1707.
  • Taisetsuzan : A large eruption occurred 30,000 years ago.
  • Mt. Usu : Mt. Usu erupt at a pace once in 30 years.
  • Mt. Asama : This mountain has repeated small eruptions.
  • Unzen Volcano : A large pyroclastic flow occurred in 1991.
  • Mt. Aso : If volcanic activity is settled, you can go near the crater.
  • Kirishima : Volcanic activity is still continuing now.
  • Sakurajima: Sakurajima also repeats small eruptions.

Mount Ontake eruption

Mt Ontake just after the eruption = Shutterstock

On September 27, 2014, Mt. Ontake (Ontake-san) suddenly erupted in 7 years. This eruption was really sudden. Approximately 60 climbers who were near the top of the mountain were sacrificed. It was the worst volcanic disaster in the postwar period in Japan.

Mt. Ontake has an altitude of 3067 m. It has been sublime by many people from long ago as a mountain of faith. Since this eruption, the Japanese government has strengthened the monitoring of volcanoes nationwide.

For information on Earthquakes and Volcanoes, please refer to the official website of Japan Meteorological Agency.
>> Click here for official website of Japan Meteorological Agency


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About me

Bon KUROSAWA  I have long worked as a senior editor for Nihon Keizai Shimbun (NIKKEI) and currently work as an independent web writer. At NIKKEI, I was the editor-in-chief of the media on Japanese culture. Let me introduce a lot of fun and interesting things about Japan. Please refer to this article for more details.

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