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Do You Know About Disaster Prevention Parks?

As Luciano, an exchange student, is jogging through the park one morning, from the opposite direction he sees his neighbor Marie approaching.

Do You Know About Disaster Prevention Parks?

Marie

Good morning Luciano! It is the first time that I have seen you since the coming of the new year. I look forward to your continued friendship. I also hope that the new year will be a good one for you.

Luciano

Yes, I really hope so too! I am praying that this year is one in which there are few major disasters.

Marie

Yes, in Japan and in your own country of Italy as well, last year seemed to be an endless procession of earthquakes.

Luciano

Yes, your father actually told me something when I met him recently. He said that because we don’t know when a major earthquake will strike in the vicinity of Tokyo, as part of our day-to-day lives, we should make sure that we are prepared.

Marie

As a fireman, that sounds typical of the sort of advice that my father would give. By the way Luciano, are you aware that even in this park, there is a variety of infrastructure that is designed to come in handy if and when a disaster occurs?

Luciano

What? What infrastructure?

Marie

For example, look at this bench. If you remove the part that you would normally sit on, it can be used as a “cooking stove.” It is designed in such a way that, if you light a fire down here, you can then cook here.

Luciano

That’s a good idea! Especially at this time of year when it is cold, if people had to evacuate to this park, I believe that the opportunity to eat a warm meal would offer some peace-of-mind to them.

Marie

Also, I would draw your attention to this manhole. It doubles as an “emergency toilet.” All you would have to do is to remove the manhole cover and set up a toilet seat and a tent over the top of it. And over there, what will come in handy is that lighting that is powered by those solar panels.

Luciano

I see. In setting up such infrastructure, it seems that the authorities have imagined a set of circumstances in which both water and electricity supplies would be cut off. And what is that over there? It almost seems to be a form of awning for giving shade from the sun. Then again, it only consists of some supports and the framework of a roof.

Marie

That’s known as a “disaster pergola.” At times of disaster, by just throwing a tent canvas over the top of the framework, it can be transformed into an emergency space to treat and protect injured people, or it could become a headquarters from which instructions could be issued.

Luciano

I see. In this park, it appears that a number of disaster-preparedness and reduction ideas have been incorporated. I am rather surprised.

Maria then proceeds to guide Luciano around the entire park pointing out a number of things.

Marie

This park is actually one of a number that are known as “Disaster Prevention Parks.” Normally, they are an oasis where visitors can relax. However, if and when a disaster occurs, in making use of their great expanses, such parks will become “broad area evacuation sites,”and they will be used as “activity hubs” by the police, the fire department and members of the Self Defense Forces who will engage in rescue activities, etc.

Luciano

Well, I actually jog in this park every morning, however, I was completely unaware of what you have just told me.

Marie

Yes, even if people happen to be aware of their local evacuation centers, it seems that few know about disaster prevention parks. With respect to such facilities in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, each has extensive links to their local communities. Thus, they are used as locations for the holding of a variety of events including disaster-preparedness drills. Indeed, I would love it if lots of people made the effort to visit their local disaster prevention park so as to find out more about them.

Luciano

In order for disaster prevention parks to be effectively used if and when an actual disaster occurs, I believe that it is important for people to appreciate the facilities they have, and to try to experience utilizing them. I would love to have an opportunity to use the “cooking stove” bench that you mentioned earlier and also to see the manhole toilet.

Marie

Well if there is such a plan at some point in the future, I will make sure to get in contact with you.

Luciano

Thank you very much! I look forward to it.
■Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association “Visit a Park!” Learn About Disaster Prevention Parks
https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/special/bousai/index.html (in Japanese only)