Be prepared and learn how to survive…natural disaster.

What is SONA AREA experience-learning facility?

Sorry for those look for fun items and experiences in Japan. The title won’t be something international tourists expect to find... but as you know, in Japan we often have earthquakes, including very big ones some times, because of that, the government provides a center called “the Disaster Prevention Experience-learning Facility” in Tokyo, which is accessible to anyone at free of charge.

The-two-floor exhibition mainly tells us how to survive for the first 72hours from a big earthquake occurrence. And to be good for foreigners, almost all of explanation at the site is available in English. So even non-Japanese speakers can take advantage of the learning opportunity. I believe that we can never find such facility out of Japan.

The Disaster Prevention Experience-learning Facility has a nick name, “SONA AREA TOKYO”, which must be easier to remember. The name is a coinage made from two words “sonae” (in Japanese “be prepared”) and “area” (the English word, referring to a place). If you see the illustration found at the entrance and on the exhibition, you could feel more familiar with it. The site allow us to learn such serious matter in easy and friendly way.

Just keep in mind that “earthquake simulation” is NOT provided here. If you wish to have such experience, it is available at “Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center”.

More details, how the exhibition SONA AREA is like?

The exhibition starts from survival simulation experience on the ground floor.

At the beginning, NINTENDO DS is provided to each visitor (not to take away though!) to help our learning through the simulation experience. We walked through the area showing what kind of risk could be in a commercial district (like a film set!) after a big earthquake and which we should take care of. Nintendo DS screen showed us the direction to proceed and some time it asked us to take quizzes showed on the screen.
You will be able to learn how to survive a natural disaster while taking the quizzes(in English).

The exibition continues to the upper floor.

On the upper floor, the exhibition continues with a video theater and display rooms where we can learn more how to survive after a natural disaster. What I like in this area is the exhibition showing how the life in evacuation centers is. Based on evacuees’ experiences at past big earthquakes including 311, it shows us many unique ideas to make our life better even such difficult time.

The facility is located Bayside area of Tokyo, not far from Odaiba. A few minute walk from Ariake station on Yurikamome line. It is a part of a large public park “The Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park.” The building accommodating the learning facility will be used as the headquarter of disaster management in case of a big natural disaster in Tokyo and surroundings.

At the entrance hall of the learning site, a small refreshment corner called “Rescue Cafe” is available. The shop offers products not only ordinary ones like coffee but also some “emergency food” such as instant porridge or long-life bread etc. That can be a part of your learning experience.

In Japanese, we have a saying
"そなえあれば、うれいなし"(Sonae areba, urei nashi)
"If you are prepared, you don't have to worry."
This is why I recommend that you once take time to visit this site and to learn how to make your life in Japan better and more comfortable any time!

Entrance: Free
Reservation: Not necessary
Visit duration: The facility recommend that a visitor takes around 60 minutes to have the learning experience and to go through the exhibition.
Opening hour: 9:30am – 4:30pm (last entrance)
Close day: Monday, New Year holidays (and some irregular close could happen)

Official website: http://www.ktr.mlit.go.jp/showa/tokyorinkai/english/index.htm

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