NIIGATA – Japan’s inventiveness and creativity is not only limited to technology, transport, and story-telling. Even when the subject is frightening and complicated, the Japanese have found ways to make it understandable to children.

For instance, in Nagaoka, a city in Niigata Prefecture, the Chuetsu Disaster Prevention Center (CDPC) has come up with disaster management-related posters for children aged four to six. CDPC, which doubles as a day-care center, is filled with posters featuring anime characters that explain causes of an earthquake, flooding, or a snowstorm and quick to-do’s in case any of these natural phenomenons occur.

Using the same characters, the Center has also created an interactive multiple-choice quiz for children. A flatscreen TV flashes questions about what to do and what not to do in case of emergencies and children answer by touching options on the screen.

“By having fun, kids can learn about disaster prevention,” says CDPC chief coordinator Takeshi Kawauchi.

The Center also has a ‘special’ vending machine that is not only able to quench thirst but also provides early warnings in case of an earthquake. The machine has sensors that are able to catch the P-wave or the longitudinal wave that occurs before the actual shake/earthquake happens. Once the machine catches these waves, it will immediately sound off warning signals. In case of an emergency, drinks inside the vending machine would be free of charge.

CDPC was among the community organizations visited by the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) participants last January. The program, organized by the Japan Foundation, aims to promote disaster awareness among Asian countries by sharing Japan’s disaster experiences.

Photos by Karol Ilagan and Charmaine Villamil

Niigata, some 254 kilometers north of Tokyo, has been hit by two big temblors in recent years: the 2007 Chuetsu-Oki Earthquake and the 2004 Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake that caused 15 and 68 deaths, respectively, and thousands seriously injured.

Like those in Kobe, community organizations in Niigata have played a crucial role in passing on the experiences from the earthquake and making sure that residents are prepared for the next one.

1 Response to Niigata: Where kids have fun, learn how to deal with disasters


Niigata: Where kids have fun, learn how to deal with disasters « Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

March 7th, 2011 at 5:43 pm

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