Are there a lot of earthquakes and typhoons in Japan?


Japan is located on several plates that cause earthquakes when they move. The plates surrounding the Pacific Ocean are known as the Ring of Fire. Because of this, there are a lot of earthquakes and volcanoes compared with other countries.

Most people who move to Japan remember their first earthquake. Some of my friends from overseas were teaching English in Japan and when the earthquake hit, they wanted to run outside. But all the students just kept on talking like nothing was happening.




Is it true that Japan has its own earthquake scale?

Yes, it is. In most countries, the Richter scale is used to define the size of an earthquake. It measures the amount of energy an earthquake releases at its epicenter.

But in Japan, the shindo (震度) scale is more commonly used. Shindo refers to the intensity of an earthquake at one location. This makes it easier to understand how much shaking is felt by people in different places.


A slight earthquake only felt by a few people who are standing still is 1 on the scale. 2 and 3 are still minor earthquakes that don’t cause damage. But at 4, objects start to fall, and even greater damage occurs at 5 and 6. 7 is a serious earthquake.




What was the biggest earthquake to ever hit Japan?


The worst earthquake in modern Japanese history was the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. It was magnitude 7.9 and 142,800 people were killed or went missing.

On January 17, 1995, at 5:46 a.m., the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe killed over 6,000 people. It measured about 7 on the Japanese scale. It was the worst disaster in Japan since the end of the World War ll.


In 2004, The Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake registered 7 on the Japanese scale. It killed 40 people, injured over 4,000 people, and caused a lot of damage. It was the first time in history that a Shinkansen bullet train was derailed, but no one on the train was injured.


The 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake (of Tōhoku) was a magnitude  9.0–9.1 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 on 11 March 2011. This is also known as the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, and the 3.11 earthquake.

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan,  and the fourth most powerful earthquake in the world  since modern record-keeping began in 1900.


And The 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes are a series of earthquakes,  including a magnitude 7.0 mainshock which struck at 01:25 on April 16, 2016 beneath Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu Region, Japan.  And a foreshock earthquake with a magnitude 6.2 at 21:26 on April 14, 2016.

The two earthquakes killed at least 50 people and injured about 3,000 others in total. Severe damage occurred in Kumamoto and Ōita Prefectures, with numerous structures collapsing and catching fire. More than 44,000 people were evacuated from their homes due to the disaster.


Quake-damaged Kumamoto Castle


Japan learned a lot from these earthquakes. The country is trying to become better-prepared for earthquakes and other disasters.




Are there a lot of typhoons in Japan?


Yes. Although typhoons can hit Japan in any month of the year, the main typhoon season is from May to November. Most typhoons come in August and September.

In an average year, there are approximately 27 typhoons, but only about three hit the main part of Japan. Typhoons are especially common in the southern part of Japan. They sometimes cause serious damage.




What is the difference between a typhoon and a hurricane?

Typhoon and hurricane are two names for the same thing. They are both tropical cyclones with winds of 120 kilometers per hour or stronger. When these storms take place in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, they are called hurricanes.

When they occur in the North Pacific Ocean west of the International Date line, they are called typhoons.




Are there a lot of volcanoes in Japan?


Yes. In fact, 10% of the world’s active volcanoes are in Japan. There are over 80 active volcanoes, including Mount Fuji, and hundreds of sleeping volcanoes.

The Japanese government studies the live volcanoes closely. It hopes to be able to predict when they will erupt, so that people living nearby can be warned.