Emergency Preparedness

How to Find an Evacuation Shelter Near You and When to Evacuate: Emergency Preparedness in Tokyo

Japan’s Meteorological Agency has issued a special emergency warning for heavy rain due to Typhoon Hagibis. The warning, the highest on a one-to-five scale, means that there is rainfall with an expected level of intensity observed only once every few decades. This is according to a report by JapanToday.

The warning applies to Tokyo and six other prefectures: Gunma, Saitama, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka.

JapanToday also reports that central Japan prefectures, such as Mie and Shizuoka, and Kanagawa southwest of Tokyo have issued evacuation advisories to many of their municipalities.

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government disaster preparedness website, many western suburban cities and some wards have issued evacuation advisories to residents.

To see an up-to-date list of which municipalities have issued advisories, please see this page (you will be taken to a Japanese page. Click on the “English” button at the top of the page to get a machine-language translation). Refresh the page to get the most up-to-date advisories: Tokyo Evacuation Information List

When should you evacuate?

There are five levels in Japan’s disaster warning system.

You should evacuate when your local government has issued a Level 4 advisory.

If you are an elderly person, you should evacuate when your local government has issued a Level 3 advisory.

  • Level 3 – Red – Elderly people must evacuate
  • Level 4 – Light Purple – All residents must evacuate
    • Level 4 is sub-divided into two types of evacuation
    • Evacuation advisory (hinan kankoku, 避難勧告)
    • Evacuation order (hinan shiji, 避難指示) – Emergency evacuation

How can I get evacuation advisories?

Evacuation advisories are issued in English on media such as NHK, Armed Forces radio, and by text messages to your phone.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) Official Site also has up-to-date advisory information color-coded to the chart above. Use the map on the page to navigate to your prefecture and city.

You can also get advisory information by checking your local city or ward’s website. The information is usually only available in English, but if there is an “English” button on the page, you will be taken to a machine-translated version of the page.

If you live in Tokyo, you can check the Tokyo Disaster Prevention Information portal site, which can be machine-translated into English and other foreign languages using the buttons on the page. This site has an up-to-date feed of advisories issued by each of the 23 Wards and cities in greater Tokyo.

Where should you evacuate?

There are various types of evacuation areas and facilities that are designated for different types of evacuation. The English translation of evacuation areas can vary depending on where you live (different cities use different English translations). Below are the main types of evacuation areas.

If you have received an evacuation advisory as a result of Typhoon 19, you should go to the evacuation area indicated by your local authority. This will most likely be an Evacuation Site or Designated Shelter.

  • Temporary Evacuation Area (ichiji hinan basho, 一時避難場所) – For example, school grounds, small parks, temple grounds, and open spaces. Usually used for temporary evacuation following an earthquake.
  • Safety evacuation Area or Wide Evacuation Area(koiki hinan basho, 広域避難場所) – For example, large parks and university grounds that can accommodate large numbers of people. Usually used for evacuation following large-scale multiple disasters, such as earthquake and fire.
  • Evacuation Site or Safety Area (hinan basho, 避難場所) – For example, local parks or public buildings. 
  • Tsunami Evacuation Area or Site (tsunami hinan basho, 津波避難場所) – Designated areas or buildings deemed sufficient for escaping above the projected level of water unundation.
  • Designated Shelters (shitei hinanjyo, 指定避難所) – For example, public schools and public buildings. These facilities usually will provide shelter, food, and water.

How can I find a designated shelter?

In Tokyo, use the online Tokyo Metropolitan Disaster Map to find the nearest shelter.

Click on the image to go to the searchable map. Select the city or ward name, then click “Shelters” then the search button to get a list of shelters, (with English addresses) in your neighborhood. Source: Tokyo Metro Government

Screenshot of search result for list of Designated Shelters in Minato Ward, Tokyo. Source: Tokyo Metro Government

Sources: Japan Meterological Agency, Hinan Kankoku Nado Ni Kan-Suru Gaidorain (Japanese), Tokyo Disaster Prevention Information