Tokyo snaps up book on survival after earthquake

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The Independent Online

The powerful earthquake that struck Japan this week caused only minor damage, but jittery Tokyoites aren't taking any chances: a booklet showing the best escape routes out of the city is suddenly a hot seller.

Nearly 200,000 copies of "Returning Home in Times of Disaster Support Map" have been sold since it was released less than a month ago, and Kinokuniya, a large Tokyo bookseller, said sales of the thin volume had doubled since Tuesday's quake.

"We're now receiving bulk orders from companies who want to distribute the book to their employees," said Hirohide Osaku, a manager.

The 7.2-magnitude underwater quake hit northern Japan, injuring some 60 people but causing no deaths. The offshore jolt was powerful enough to sway buildings in Tokyo, 185 miles away. On 23 July, a temblor registering magnitude-6 had rattled the capital, injuring 37 people. In a city where officials predict a major quake could kill 11,000, the rumblings are making many think hard.

"I really need to figure out what the safest route home would be," said Shuichi Kadooka, an IT engineer, as he leafed through the book. He said he would have no way of knowing how to get home if a major quake hit. " Everybody should know an escape route to open space," he said. " That's very important in Tokyo."

The booklet, rushed into print on 1 August to capitalise on the July quake, points out wide roads, public schools that would be used as evacuation centres, and routes that would likely be blocked by rubble.

The 100-page booklet, published by Shobundo, also shows survivors the location of public bathrooms and even park benches. The emphasis on transportation is key: the quake on Tuesday stopped trains for hours, trapping 100,000 people returning to Tokyo after summer holidays.

But Eriko Akiyama, a member of the city's disaster prevention unit, warned: "If everyone rushes to go home all at once on the same roads, there will be total chaos. We're urging people to think carefully before they move."

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