Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Marketing & Earthquakes.

It’s election season in Nagoya.  We know this because: speaker cars.

A speaker car is exactly what it sounds like - a car or van plastered with promotional stickers which is rigged with an external loudspeaker.  This van drives around the major streets while a person in the backseat (almost always a woman with a 'pleasant' voice) reads a two to three sentence statement over and over again into a microphone while politely waving a white-gloved hand out the window  at street-level pedestrians.  

A video posted by Kristin KpMcD McDermott (@kpquepasa) on


All of these vans we’ve seen have people’s names and faces plastered all over them, so The Mister and I have decided they must be toting political “vote for me!” type messages.  Really though, it’s a best guess, because when we hear them, between the garbled-ness of the speaker quality, and the fact that we don’t know enough Japanese… it’s a lot like being kids stuck in a Live-Action production of Peanuts during a scene with a bunch of adults.  

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a speaker car in the US - they might exist in larger cities, but honestly I don’t see Americans being too cool with them, so maybe not.  I don’t think they’d fly in the states because they are SUPER loud.  I know they are allowed to start their driving loops at precisely 9:30AM, because I can hear them from blocks away as I sit on the couch in my 11th floor apartment every day.  They go until about 7PM.  All day.  I can hear two of them going while I type this.  I feel like most Americans would be pretty firmly in the camp of “this infringes on my constitutional right to peace and quiet! ‘Murica!”  In fact, I did a brief survey of the Americans that are readily available to me:  100% of the 2 Americans surveyed were totally over the idea of speaker cars.

Pictured: the sampling from my survey. 
So.  We’ve now established that I’m not cool with the speaker cars. Let’s talk about something else I’m not cool with:  Earthquakes. (how’s THAT for a segue?)

Also I look great in blue gingham.
They're so cute
when they're little.
Growing up in the midwest/ having never lived outside the center-line of North America, I have been brought up to be prepared to deal with exactly one natural disaster:  Tornadoes.  I’m not saying this to insinuate that I would 100% survive a tornado were it to happen, but I feel like I’ve had the time in my 30 years on this earth to amass enough information to take a pretty good crack at said survival.  Great.  

Does Japan have tornadoes?  
No, so that knowledge is useless.  They have GODZILLA* Earthquakes, and occasionally earthquake related tsunamis.  Two things about which I, KpMcD, have zero knowledge.



(quick note to my parents: I make an effort to write these posts in a humorous fashion.  I have slightly exaggerated here. I am in no immediate danger, calm down.)


We were provided some information upon our arrival regarding Earthquake preparedness, and because I’m a paranoid yutz, I have done some of my own research.  Let me share some highlights:

  • Japan is situated directly over the seam of two major tectonic plates:  the Philippine Sea Plate, and the Eurasian Plate.  Specifically this meeting is found at Suruga Bay.  The tension at this seam has proven to create a large (level 8+) Earthquake every 100-150 years.  
click to embiggen.  We're at the fancy cross.  Plate seam is at the diamond.
  • We are currently within that time window, so this tea-kettle is set to blow anytime now.
  • Because they know it’s coming, Japan has named this Earthquake already.  It is named the Tokai Earthquake, and true to Japan and it’s need for everything to be adorable, it has a “Smokey the Bear”-type cartoon catfish mascot.
  • I want to hug this mascot because he will keep me safe with his survival tips.  Also he’s pretty cute for a catfish.


  • Here’s what the Tokai Expert Fish has taught me: If I am in the house, I need to take cover away from windows.  I’ve timed it - I need 10-12 seconds to grab both Mac and Bubba and run to the toilet room.
  • If I’m outside, move away from buildings.  So I hope I’m not outside if it hits, because I’m in the middle of a major metropolitan area, thus there is no “away from buildings.”  Though the Expert-fish informs me that I shouldn’t worry too much, because the buildings here are all built specifically to withstand Earthquakes, so my biggest worry should be avoiding flower pots and other rando crap from apartment balconies.
  • It’s pretty safe to say that we’re far enough away from the ocean to not worry too terribly hard about Earthquake resultant Tsunamis.  But also I’m not going to worry about them because they tend to come with a decent amount of warning, and you better believe I’m not going to be one of those idiots who’s all “oh they issued an evacuation order for this area.  I’m going to just wait out the whole thing here anyway.”  OH NO.  Our butts will be E-VAC-U-ATE-ED, thank you very much.
  • Because they know it’s coming, Japan monitors the snot out of that tectonic seam and everything it does.  They believe they will be able to predict this beast of an earthquake in order to warn the people of Japan properly.  That monitoring agency also reports that while I’ve been here, there have already been two Earthquakes in this region.  They were "baby Earthquakes."  I didn’t know they happened until I read that on the page.  I didn’t freak out about that at all.  Nope.


Alright, so I’m feeling informed and reasonably prepared.  How does the monitoring agency and the Tokai-Expert Fish alert people to an impending Earthquake Emergency?


SPEAKER CARS.
Which by sometime next week I will be perfectly conditioned to ignore in a “Boy who cried wolf” fashion.  Perfect.

What type of natural disaster do you prep for in your home-area?  
Are you in an Earthquake region?  
Did the adorable catfish miss a tip?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson:

私は鯰です。地震がある。
watashiwa namazu desu.  jishin ga aru.

I am a catfish.  There is an earthquake.


*Godzilla is actually called Gojira (ゴジラ)here.

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