Try the Earthquake Simulation Machine at the Tokyo Earthquake Training Center!
“Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center” or “Ikebukuro Bosaikan”
Hidden away in the backstreets of Ikebukuro, is a workshop/life skills centre nicknamed the “Tokyo earthquake training center” where you and the kids can learn all about what to do when an earthquake hits. (In Japan, minor earthquakes and tremors are a fairly common occurrence. I’ve been to Japan three times, and have had mild earthquake encounters on every visit.)
On the fourth floor of the Tokyo Fire Department building, the Tokyo earthquake training center offers something a bit different to your normal tourist itinerary and is interactive for the kids. The centre runs free courses on various aspects of public safety, with a focus on earthquake safety. Families can join a basic training tour. The tour includes a short movie about the history of Japanese earthquakes (subtitled in English), followed by the earthquake simulation (the main event), smoke maze training and fire fighting training.
The highlight? The Earthquake Simulation Machine!
When you arrive for this part of the tour, you are given a pair of shoes to put on, and given instruction about what to expect when riding the simulator. The earthquake simulator is a raised platform with horizontal movement created by hydraulic rams. A dining table and six chairs are on the platform and a large video screen on the surrounding walls depicted a home setting and also buildings. Real footage is screened during your ride. Six people at a time are invited to take a turn.
My mum, Roam the Gnome, and I took our places. For the drill, you sit in a chair to begin, then when the platform operator gives you the go-ahead, it’s time to take your chair cushion, climb under the table, hang on to a leg, and put that chair cushion over your head. The shaking and moving starts to intensify almost immediately.
We were taken through two different earthquake scenarios. The first was bearable, but the second one, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, was much more unpredictable! There was little hope of holding that chair cushion above my head- it was hard enough to stay upright! It was hilarious!
Anyone 3 years old and above can ride. BUT, my 3 year old would not like this. Fortunately, they can stay seated in the small auditorium where you can see them and they can watch you. Either way, it’s probably a good idea to let others go first, so that the little children can see that it’s not real, that it’s just a pretend ‘ride’. We don’t want to be freaking the little ones out!
What else can kids do at the Tokyo Earthquake Training Center?
Tackle the smoke-filled maze and learn how to evacuate properly.
- Stay low to the ground, and cover your mouth from the dangers of smoke inhalation. From time to time, the smoke machine conks out, so you’ll be invited to become an actor and pretend!
Try fire-fighting training.
- Kids need to be 10 years and older to have a go at spraying the water at the make-believe kitchen fire on screen (what a silly lady to answer her phone when cooking with oil) but it’s fun to watch mum or dad have a turn too!
Dress up in fire-fighter clothes and helmets from the Tokyo Fire Department.
Snap a picture in the Photo Spot
Collect all the “Eki” type stamps from the five stations around the center.
- Stamp yourself a souvenir of your visit and add them to your collection.
- (More about Eki “Station” Stamp collecting here.)
Take a look at the uniforms of fire fighting and emergency services
- Try a ‘rescue’ game on the computers while you are there.
The Inside Scoop
Opening Hours & Entry Fees
- 9am to 5pm
- Closed on Tuesdays and the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Closed form December 28th to January 4th.
- Admission is FREE!
- Most of the staff do not speak English (and we do not speak Japanese) but one of the ladies had enough English to be able to direct us.
- The centre also runs CPR and earthquake rescue courses (rescuing people from collapsed buildings) for Japanese visitors, schools, and office workers.
- Tours run at 9.30am, 1pm and 3pm. The short tour runs at 11.10am.
- Phone: 03 3590 6565
- Official Website of the Tokyo Earthquake Training Center
- Catch the train to Ikebukuro Station and follow the map above. (It’s a bit off the beaten track.) Allow ten minutes walking time.
- If you have access to Google Maps, set your target as the Ikebukuro Police Station. The Tokyo Earthquake Training Center is on the adjacent corner.
Location and Map
- Address: 2-37-8 Nishi Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0021
World Schooling – teaching your kids as you travel!
- If this isn’t a real Japanese life experience, then we don’t know what is!
- Preparing your little kids for an earthquake is helpful. The first time you feel a tremor is pretty terrifying and seems to last forever. Preparing kids for that will help them stay calm during the minute or so of movement.
- The Japanese staff at this place are so helpful and generous with their time, the kids will love them and they’ll feel pretty special too. Not many foreign travellers with kids make the trek or even know about this place. (Lucky you!)
Eat and Drink
- No food on site. Eat and drink before you arrive. Bring snacks for afterwards. Then head to Sunshine City for lunch or dinner.
Toadstool Rating (by the kids)
Family Travel Ideas with Roam the Gnome
We love to share the SUPER FUN kid-friendly stuff we find around the world, so you can go there too!