Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center (池袋防災館全景写真)
2-37-8 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-0021 (東京都豊島区西池袋2-37-
Experience an earthquake, use a fire extinguishing, try to escape from an apartment full of smoke and watch a 3D-movie about a big earthquake in Tokyo.
Open from 9 am to 5 pm, closed on tuesday and the third Wednesday of each month
Less than 5 minutes from the JR Ikebukuro station (west side) - check this map
or this google link
Internet : www.tfd.metro.tokyo.jp/hp-ikbskan/index.html
(in Japanese only)
This is a great, free attraction that would fit perfectly in a rainy day...
Every one knows that Japanese ground is often shacked by earthquake. This Life Safety Learning Center is dedicated to teaching basic reflexes that can save your life, and help you to save others. The main attraction is a machine which recreates an earthquake: a room with basic furnitures is shacked up, and since you are in that room, you will be able to realize how an earthquake really feels like!
Visitors are welcomed on the 4th floor of the Fire Department Building, and guides at specific times to the 5th floor. All information are given in Japanese. At first, the use of fire extinguishers is demonstrated, and visitors can even try to handle them.
Then, a small movie on earthquake is displayed, and visitors are conducted by group of 4 in a basic room with a table and 4 chairs. While they are sitting, an earthquake is simulated. As soon as the ground is moving you have to go under the table and wait for the tremor to stop; while it is funny the first 10 seconds, you quickly realize that this, indeed, could be dangerous in real life. Especially when it lasts for more than 1 minute... The magnitude (on Japanese scale) of this simulation is 6-7, the expected strength of a very strong earthquake that could hit Tokyo.
Following this shaking experience, you will be given tips on how to minimize damages in your home in case of a big earthquake.
What really is killing people during an earthquake is usually the fires that starts at that time. The following step is an evacuation exercise in an apartment that is filled with smoke. Again rather funny the first 20 seconds, it becomes more interesting when you realize that many doors are closed, and that finding an exit is not so easy. The smoke here is not dangerous, unlike a real smoke in a real fire...
Finally, you will be conducted to a conference room where a 3D-movie will be displayed. If you ask for that, you can have an English version projected. The movie was obviously made 15 years ago, but it gives you a good idea of the potential problems a city like Tokyo would encounter in case of a "Big One"...
Overall, it is a great experience, which is completely free. It lasts about 90 minutes, and you can really learn a lot at the same time.
Keep in mind that apart the movie - which can be seen in English upon request - all information will be in Japanese, so bringing someone who could translate for you is a good idea if you don't understand the language at all...
(all pictures are from the official web site mentioned above)