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Japanese Words Made for Earthquakes and Other Disasters

It's time to look at some words for these terrifying natural occurrences.

By 2 min read

Living in Japan, you may have already heard your phone suddenly blare 地震じしん だ (it’s an earthquake). But there are other words you should know in case of emergencies, such as 脱出だっしゅつ ルート (escape) and 避難路ひなんろ (the escape route).

Other words that may come up a lot are the various ranks of the Richter scale as people try to work out how big a quake is.

In Japan, earthquakes are categorized into seven levels known as 震度しんど. Each level also has two subdivisions marked じゃく(lesser) and きょう (greater). So a 震度6弱 is strong enough that most people will find it difficult to stand; whereas a 震度6強 is strong enough that people will likely have to ろくきょう (crawl) from the room.

Floods, fires and other emergencies

In the event of an impending earthquake, your phone will give a warning alarm.

Of course, the strength of the earthquake depends on the proximity of it to you and your place. The most dangerous place to be is the 震源地しんげんち (epicenter). After the initial hit, there are the 震動しんどう (tremors) that affect the surrounding area and these are later followed by 余震よしん (aftershocks).

Unfortunately, after an earthquake, each prefecture may have something else to deal with whether its a 洪水こうずい (floods), 火事かじ (fires), 猛暑もうしょ (heatwave) or even the 噴火ふんか (volcanic eruption) and 雪崩なだれ (avalanche). These unfortunate events have to lead to Japanese learners being forced to absorb new words like 被害ひがい (harm), 避難ひなん する (to take refuge) and even 死亡しぼう (fatalities).

Also, don’t forget to reset your gas if it has been unpredictable since a quake.

Emergency kits

Always think ahead!

Considering all of this, every home should be prepared in the event of an earthquake or any other emergency event. Many families in Japan will have 対策たいさく or 防災ぼうさい グッズ (emergency goods prepared in case of an earthquake).

One of the golden rules for surviving the aftermath of an unexpected natural disaster is to be prepared. The 非常持ひじょうもひん (emergency goods) that you have in your pack should include things like みず (water), 乾燥かんそ対策グッズ (dehydrated foodstuffs) and a 救急きゅうきゅう (first-aid kit).

It can also be useful 備蓄品びちくひんそなえる (to stockpile dried goods) just in case.

For all our readers: don’t forget to prepare your 対策グッズ (emergency kit) and 救急セット (first aid kit).

While we should be aware of being prepared for the worst to happen at all times, fingers crossed that these words for earthquakes and natural disasters are not words that we will need often.

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