April 2004
Disaster prevention in Kyoto
fire truck

         Once you've experienced an earthquake, typhoon, fire or other disaster, you can truly understand the importance of disaster prevention. It is necessarily for every citizen to make an effort to minimize the damage caused by natural disasters.

          At the Kyoto City Citizen's Disaster Prevention Center, you can learn about different types of disasters by experiencing them first hand through simulation rooms. In these rooms you can be blown away by the 30 meter per second wind speed of a Typhoon, get shaken up by a level 7 simulated earthquake, escape from a room filled with smoke and hot air, and learn about the importance of disaster prevention by viewing high-vision imagery. The center uses the latest technology to replicate the feeling of a real disaster, so you can have a fun time while learning important information about disasters and their prevention.

          The Kyoto Guide Club recently went of a tour of the Kyoto City Citizen's Disaster Prevention Center with 15 foreign residents of the city. According to one Chinese participant: "In China we don't have many earthquakes, so it was my first time feeling a room shaking like an earthquake. It was so scary I hid underneath a table and didn't want to come out again!" "It was more fun than I expected, and I learned a lot of useful information," was the response we received from many of the participants.

          The Kyoto City Citizens Disaster Prevention Center is open from 9:00-17:00 most days, (last entrance at 16:00). Holidays are Mondays and the third Tuesday of every month. Admission is free. Reservations are necessary for a group of ten or bigger, a reservation can be made by calling 075-662-1849.
The Kyoto City Citizens Disaster Prevention Center is located at 7 Sugata-cho, Nishikujo, Minami-ku, Kyoto.
The center can be accessed by taking city bus 19 or 42 to Shimin Bosai Center Mae, or taking Kyoto City Subway Karasuma line to Jujo Station and walking 18 minutes west.

More information can be had by calling the center of visiting their webpage:

You can view the Kyoto City English language disaster prevention page at



Step One: Keep Necessary Supplies on Hand
It's important to have a stock of clothes, food, medicine, drinking water, blankets, first aid kit, etc. prepared in case of disaster. After an earthquake, roads may be closed and government assistance may not be able to get through. Keep important documents such as bank book, health insurance, passport, etc. in an easy to find place, along with a battery operated radio and flashlight.
Step Two: Secure Furniture Around the House
Secure furniture within your house.During the Great Hanshin Earthquake, many people died as a result of being unable to move while trapped beneath heavy furniture that had fallen over. Make sure to secure tall furniture (such as chests of drawers) and electric appliances against the wall to prevent them from falling over. Make sure that there is nothing that could fall on top of you when you are in bed.
Step Three: Fire Preparedness
In the case of a fire. Alert nearby people by yelling "Kaji" (fire!). Have someone call the 119 emergency number for help. The first three minutes are the most important in controlling a fire. Don't waste time- use a fire extinguisher, water, or a blanket to smother flames. Once the fire has reached the ceiling it cannot be controlled- evacuate as quickly as possible.
Step Four: The Importance of Community fire extinguisher
Over 6,000 people died in the Hanshin Earthquake. Of the 35,000 people who were rescued, 80% were aided by family members or neighbors. Particularly in the epicenter of Awaji Island, many people were buried alive within their own homes as the result of the destructive earthquake. People within the neighborhood worked to rescue each other. As a result, three hundred people were rescued, and the missing person count was zero.

The Hanshin Earthquake has made us realize the importance of interacting positively with the people we encounter in our daily lives. Our cooperative efforts can be ones of our greatest strengths during times of disaster.It is important to build relationships of trust with the people in your local community as another kind of disaster preparedness.

-Article by S. Onda, Translation by B. Jarvis

Kita Ku:
Kyoto Golf Course
Right bank of the Kamo River
Omiya Kotsu Park
Kinkakuji Temple
Ritsumeikan University Grounds
Rakusei High School
Sakyo Ku:
Takaragaike Park
Prefectural Botanical Gardens
Prefectural University Grounds
Left bank of Kamo River
Kyoto University Dept. of Agriculture
Okazaki Park
Kamigyo Ku:
Right bank of Kamo River
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Nakagyo Ku:
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Nijo Castle
Shimadzu Factory North grounds
Higashiyama Ku:
Maruyama Park
Hiyoshigaoka High School
Tsukinowa Middle School
Senyuji Temple grounds
Ukyo Ku:
Sai-in Park
Delta Training Institute
Ninnaji Temple grounds
Hirosawanoike area
Bukkyo University
Horikawa High School
Kyoto Kogei Seni University
Nishikyogoku Undo Park
Banks of Katsura River
Shimogyo Ku:
Umekoji Park
Nishikyo Ku:
Katsurazaka Elementary School
Oeda Middle School
International Japan Culture Research Center
Katsuragawa Middle School
Kawaoka Higashi Elementary School
Ushigase Park
Katsura High School
Katsura Self-Defense Forces Garrison
Obatagawa Chuo Park
Municipal Arts College
Sakaidani Elementary School
Rakusei Middle School
Sakaidani Park
Take no Sato Elementary School
Daijagaike Park
Yamashina Ku:
Yamashina Chuo Park
Anshoji Middle School Sankai Elementary School
Higashiyama Middle, High Schools
Higashino Park
Yamashina Middle School
Rakuto Automobile Training Institute
Kanshuji Park
Kanshu Middle School
Ryukoku University
Heian Woman's Academy
Ogurisu Elementary, Middle Schools
Ikeda Elementary School
Ritsuryo Middle School
Fushimi Ku:
Kyoto Fu Police School
Ryutani University
Kyoto Kyoiku University High School
Shimotoba Park
Misu Park
Fushimi Park
Hasukashi Undo Park
Yokooji Undo Park
Kyoto Police Driver's License Test Center
Kyoto Race Track
Fire Fighter's School
Fushimi Kitahori Park
Momoyama Goryo
Momoyamajo Park
Mukaijima Middle School
Mukaijima Ninomaru Elementary School
Mukaijima Chuo Park
Mukaijima Higashi Park
Left bank of Uji River
Mukaijima Fujinoki Elementary School
Kasugaoka Middle School
Hino Elementary School
informationFor a map and a complete listing of evacuation areas in Kyoto in Japanese, please visit:


Taste of Japan

Japan has a mild, humid climate that is suitable for growing a variety of natural produce, but also makes food susceptible to spoiling through the growth of bacteria. Resultantly, a lot of the seasonings used in Japanese foods originated as preservatives to help control the growth of bacteria. In the case of seasonings such as shoyu (έ–ϋsoy sauce), miso (–‘‘X fermented soy paste), mirin (–‘ηΜJapanese cooking sherry) and so forth, natural bacteria was combined with malt to create a new flavor through fermentation.


There are a number of basic seasonings that are frequently used to create the delicate flavors of Japanese cooking. There is a rule in that seasonings should be added in the order sa-shi-su-se-so, (which is also the order of sounds in the hiragana syllabary). These sounds are abbreviations for Sato (sugar), Shio (salt), Osu(vinegar) , Seiyu (aka shoyu: soy sauce), and Miso (fermented soy paste). The seasons are added in this order to ensure the best flavor for the food- for example, miso is added last because boiling kills the beneficial bacteria contained in miso and ruins the taste.

I would like to introduce each of these seasonings in order and explain their role in Japanese cooking:

Sugar (»“œ) is often used in Japanese savory dishes as a preservative, and to soften strong or sour tastes.

Salt (‰–) is perhaps the most important seasoning in Japanese food. It enhances the flavor of foods, acts as a preservative, and helps maintain the attractive color and texture of foods.

Vinegar (‚¨|) Vinegar adds depth to flavors by adding a sour flavor that balances saltiness. Vinegar also helps preserve foods by killing bacteria and preventing oxidization to keep colors bright. Therefore, vinegar was historically used to preserve foods through pickling. In modern times it is frequently used in sushi and salads. There are many types of vinegar used in Japan: including grain vinegar (’•¨|), rice vinegar (•Δ|), and fruit vinegar, (‰ΚŽΐ|).

Shoyu (έ–ϋ) adds a rich salty taste and golden color to food. There are a wide variety of soy sauces based on the thickness, darkness of color, type of beans used, salt content, etc. Koikuchi shouyu (”ZŒϋέ–ϋ, dark color, 16% salt content) is most typically used in daily cooking and eating. Some dishes call for usukuchi shoyu (”–Œϋέ–ϋ) which is a lighter color.

Miso (–‘‘Xj is a fermented soy bean paste that removes unpleasant odors, absorbs oil and adds a rich, salty taste to foods. Like vinegar, miso was traditionally used to preserve fish and vegetables. Miso is traditionally made with soy beans, but some varieties are made using other grains such as rice and wheat.

Other Seasonings:

Sake (Japanese rice wine) adds depth to flavors, removes unpleasant odors, and helps keep fish and meat soft. It is typically used in stewed dishes known as nimono (ŽΟ•¨).

Mirin (Japanese Sherry) is sweet seasoning sake, and is an indispensable seasoning for Japanese cooking. It adds a sweet taste and an appetizing flavor to foods, and is frequently used in glazes.

Ponzu is a light lemony soy sauce which can be used as salad dressing, or as a dipping sauce to be served with nabe hotpot dishes.

Teriyaki sauce is a flavorful glaze used for broiling meat, fish and vegetables and can be either bought at a store or made at home by simmering together 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup mirin and 2 tbsp sugar. You can also add other seasonings like ginger or sesame.

Wasabi is hot green horseradish paste that is traditionally served with raw fish, and sometimes used as a seasoning in other dishes.

Tsuyu is a thick, flavorful mixture of Shoyu, Mirin, and dashi soup stock which can be used as a dipping sauce for tempura or soba noodles, or as a base seasoning for boiled dishes such as nikujaga and nabe.

Umeboshi are pickled plums, not traditionally considered to be a seasoning, but is often used to add flavor to a dish. The citric acid contained in umeboshi stimulates the appetite and aids with sterilization.

Goma are roasted sesame seeds, available in black and white varieties. Goma is commonly used to make ohitashi (boiled vegetable like spinach mixed with ground sesame, shoyu and a little sugar.) Ground sesame and sesame paste are very useful for Japanese cooking.

Katsuobushi are flavorful flakes of dried bonito fish. It is used along with konbu to make soup stock known as dashi. It is also used as a topping for salads, udon, okonomiyake and so forth.

Konbu is a thick, broad type of kelp, and is used along with katsuobushi to make Japanese broth (dashi). It is also boiled with sugar, shoyu, sake and mirin to make a dish called kobu no tsukudani.

This is only a list of the most basic types of seasonings- you may be overwhelmed by the variety of dressings, sauces and dips available in the supermarket. Why not try making some seasonings and sauces at home using the following recipes?


=== Salad Dressings ===

Japanese Dressing Mix 1/4 cup each of shoyu (soy sauce) and lemon juice or rice vinegar with two or three tablespoons of salad oil. Add sesame seeds or grated ginger to taste.

Chinese Dressing Mix 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 cup each of shoyu and rice vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sesame oil. Add tobanjan (Chinese chili bean paste) to taste.

Umeboshi (Pickled Plum) Dressing Mix 3 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon of shoyu, 3 tablespoons salad oil, adding 1/2 tablespoon of mashed umeboshi last.

=== Flavored Vinegars (‡‚ν‚Ή|) ===

Nihai-zu Mix 2 tablespoons each of rice vinegar and shoyu (soy sauce). Serve with fish.

Sanbai-zu Mix 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar,@1/2 tablespoon of shoyu, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of dashi (katsuo broth). Serve with vegetables or seaweed.

Mustard Vinegar Mix 1/2 cup of Sanbai-zu, 2 teaspoons of mustard paste(karashi),and a little of salt. Serve with boiled greens such as spinach (horenso) or komatsuna.

Ama-zu (Sweet Vinegar) Mix 3 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of water and sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Serve with turnips or cucumbers.

Kimi-zu (Egg Yolk Vinegar) Mix 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon each of vinegar, sugar and mirin,1 teaspoon of usukuchi shoyu, a little salt and dogtooth violet starch (katakuriko). Serve with shrimp, crab, or cucumbers.

Sushi-zu (1) (Sushi Vinegar)
Mix 4 tablespoons of vinegar and sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.Use for seasoning rice for inari-zushi (fried sweet bean curd stuffed with boiled vinegar rice)

Sushi-zu (2) Mix 4 tablespoons of vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Use for seasoning nigiri-zushi rice( hand-rolled sushi ).

Sushi-zu (3) 3 tablespoons of vinegar and sugar, 1 teaspoon salt. Use for seasoning chirashi-zushi rice (sushi rice topped with different ingredients )

=== Flavored Miso (‡‚ν‚Ή–‘‘X) ===

Su-miso (vinegar miso) Mix 100g of shiro miso (white miso), 2 tablespoons of mirin, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2-3 tablespoons vinegar. Serve with boiled green onions, wakame, or sea weed.

Karashi-miso(mustard-miso) Mix 100g of akamiso(red miso), 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons each of shoyu and karashi, 2 tablespoons of dashi stock.Serve with grilled fish.

Goma-miso (sesame-miso) Mix 100g of akamiso, 3 tablespoons of sesame and sugar. Serve with furofuki-daikon (boiled Japanese radish).

Dengaku-miso Mix 100g of akamiso, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of mirin and dashi. Serve with tofu, konnyaku, or eggplant.

Yuzu-miso Mix 100g of akamiso, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons mirin, shaved rind of yuzu (Japanese citron). Serve with tofu.

-Article and recipes by A. Tara

Designed by A. Kitagawa (HP Volunteer)