September 1st is called “Bosai no hi,” or Disaster Preparation Day, in memory of the terrible Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923.
There are six natural disasters, or “saigai,” that regularly strike Japan:
1. earthquake (“jishin”)
4. flood (“kozui”)
5. fire (“kaji”)
6. volcanic eruption (“funka”)
In the week of September 9-17, 2015 we experienced four of them, more than once. On Wednesday, September 9, 2015 passing typhoon number 17 and 18 brought heavy rain to Tokyo and a burst river levee and flooding in Tochigi and Ibaraki Prefectures north of the capital. One week later, on Thursday, September 17, typhoon number 20 brought more heavy rain. In the meantime, early in the early morning of Saturday, September 12th Tokyo was rocked by an intensity 4 earthquake centered in Tokyo Bay, relatively close by. On the Richter Scale, which measures energy, it was a magnitude 5.2 quake, but on the Japanese Intensity Scale, which measures shaking, it was a 4 out of a maximum 7 - or “shindo yon” in Japanese.
Finally, at the same time we’ve had two active volcanoes in the southern island of Kyushu causing evacuation alerts. I received a communique from the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo warning me that tourists were being advised to evacuate the area around Mt. Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture, near the city of Nagasaki. At the same time Mt. Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture was also prompting similar warnings. Well, I don’t live anywhere near there, so they aren’t my problem. But Tokyo is only 100 km from Mt. Fuji, a dormant volcano that last erupted three hundred years ago. Mt. Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture is even closer than that, and its eruption in May 2015 caused the government to declare a No-Go zone around it.
Next will be Godzilla, I suppose.