In America, an earthquake is an incredibly rare occurrence, but when one does happen it’s national news. In Japan, however, earthquakes are an expected and accounted for part of life. In fact, Japan experiences several earthquakes a day! Japan sits along at the intersection of 4 tectonic plates, so it’s no wonder the country has so many earthquakes and volcanoes. How then, you might ask, is Japan able to be so successful with such instability underfoot?
Many earthquakes that occur in Japan are so small that only a seismograph can pick it up. Even the strongest daily earthquakes at around a magnitude of 4.0 barely affect daily operations for affected residents. Still, you say, wouldn’t such frequent earthquakes cost prohibitive amounts of infrastructural damage? Japan has already thought of that.
Japan implemented the world’s first building code for seismic forces in 1924 following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1924. Amendments in 1981 implemented more rigorous standards so that buildings withstand any damage from medium-sized earthquakes and will not collapse during large-scale earthquakes. But this isn’t the only reason why you will see little or no damage in major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
Several earthquakes may occur every day, but that doesn’t mean every part of Japan feels it. Japan’s territory spans from Russia down to Taiwan, as well as 500 miles south of Tokyo to the Ogasawara Islands, which are also known as the “Galapagos of the East.” With such massive territory, it is very unlikely you will experience even a minor earthquake on your trip to Japan.