Earthquakes in Japan

Japan, a country admired for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and cutting-edge technology, is also known for its seismic activity. Situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," it experiences frequent earthquakes. For tourists, understanding earthquake preparedness is crucial for a safe visit. This guide provides insights into Japan's earthquake resilience, notable seismic events, and essential safety tips for travelers.

Earthquake Resilience in Japan

Japan's advanced engineering and strict building codes ensure that skyscrapers, hotels, and public infrastructures are designed to withstand earthquakes. Japanese architecture incorporates shock-absorbing foundations and flexible structures that can sway without collapsing during seismic activity. This commitment to safety is a testament to Japan's dedication to protecting lives and minimizing damage during natural disasters.

Notable Earthquakes in Japan

Year Location Magnitude
1995 Kobe 6.9
2011 Tohoku (Great East) 9.0
2016 Kumamoto 7.0
2018 Hokkaido 6.7

These events have shaped Japan's approach to disaster preparedness and response, making it one of the world's leaders in earthquake resilience.

Safety Tips for Tourists

Before Your Trip

  • Educate Yourself: Familiarize yourself with basic earthquake safety tips.
  • Download Apps: Install apps that provide Earthquake Early Warnings (EEW) and have English support.

During Your Stay

  • Know the Safety Features of Your Accommodation: Upon check-in, ask about the building's earthquake safety features and the emergency evacuation plan.
  • Stay Informed: Keep a portable battery charger for your phone to ensure you receive timely alerts and information.

If an Earthquake Occurs

  • Indoors: "Drop, Cover, and Hold On." Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture and protect your head and neck.
  • Outdoors: Move to an open area away from buildings, trees, and streetlights.
  • After Shocks: Be prepared for aftershocks, which can occur minutes to days after the initial quake.

FAQs for Tourists

How will I be alerted to an earthquake?

Japan's EEW system sends alerts through TV, radio, and mobile phones. Ensure your phone is set up to receive these alerts, often provided by local apps or the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

Are tourist attractions safe?

Japan's tourist attractions adhere to strict safety standards. Historical sites and newer attractions are regularly inspected and retrofitted to comply with earthquake safety regulations.

What should I do if I don't speak Japanese?

Learn a few key phrases related to emergencies. Additionally, emergency response teams and tourist centers are equipped to assist non-Japanese speakers during crises.

Can I participate in earthquake preparedness drills?

Yes, some communities and tourist areas offer earthquake simulation drills and preparedness workshops. Participating in these drills can provide hands-on experience in responding to an earthquake.


While the thought of experiencing an earthquake during your visit to Japan might be daunting, the country's preparedness, coupled with informed and cautious behavior, can significantly mitigate risks. Japan's remarkable resilience and technological advancements in earthquake preparedness ensure that tourists can explore this beautiful country with peace of mind. Remember, awareness and preparation are your best tools for a safe and enjoyable journey through Japan.