Interview with 167 victims

Disaster Prevention Preparation Manual “Earthquake ITSUMO Note” (Earthquake Everyday Notebook)

April 2007

Hirokazu Nagata / President, PLUS ARTS NPO

Text by Kei Kato

“Earthquake ITSUMO Note”


Mr. Hirokazu Nagata (Executive Director of PLUS ARTS NPO)


Official guide book “Earthquake ITSUMO Note”

Let’s not forget the knowledge and skills of disaster prevention we learned from Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.We conducted surveys and interviews with earthquake survivors between December 2004 to August 2005 with about 10 student volunteers at the time and our office staff. “Earthquake ITSUMO Note” was created based on this information, as an official guidebook for the “Earthquake EXPO” which held various exhibitions including the “Specialty Store for Disaster Prevention Goods” and “Shelter Town made by Architects”.


Having the Illustrator Visualize the Disaster

We found it critical to convert words into drawings in order to convey our messages straightforwardly. We commissioned Bunpei Yorifuji as our illustrator since we had been aware of his great communication skills through illustrations. His works include “Adult Education for Smoking Cigarettes” which aims at the coexistence of smokers and non-smokers. His presentation is straightforward and humorous, using statistics and other materials. The term “disaster prevention” could sometimes sound off putting, so we wanted to make it more approachable.

We invited Mr. Yorifuji to Kobe so he could get a sense of the disaster, since he did not experience the earthquake. He deepened his knowledge about the earthquake by visiting places like “The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution” and “Osaka City Abeno Life Safety Learning Center” and received materials from the time of the disaster.


Listening to Survivors with Various Experiences

There are different narratives of the lessons learned from the disaster depending on the survivors’ experience. So in order to collect a variety of survivors’ stories, we sought out and interviewed people with different experiences. There were people who were out of their houses when it happened, people who participated in rescue activities and soup kitchens, and people who were living at evacuation shelters. Although it had been 10 years since the earthquake, asking them about the disaster was a very sensitive matter since some of them lost their family members. We couldn’t pick up all the stories, but referencing the results of the surveys conducted by the local shopping streets made up for what we could not discover by ourselves.


Amassing a big collection of stories from the survey

It went well because first of all we were able to meet Bunpei Yorifuji. Secondly, we were successful at collecting a wide variety of surveys and interviews to the extent that even Mr. Yorifuji said, “I didn’t have to do anything special.” It turned out to be meaningful work, and as our enthusiasm grew, we were able to send out a strong social statement.


Creating various disaster prevention education programs

This project contributed to passing on the fading disaster prevention knowledge and skills we had learned in Kobe ten years ago, to the next generation. Through the production of this book, we as the “spokesperson for the victims” became engaged in disaster prevention educationand started creating various disaster prevention programs and educational materials such as “IZA! KAERU CARAVAN”.


Demands for reprints by the people

I was overjoyed to successfully publish this book. Despite disaster prevention being a formidable genre, it sold unusually well especially after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11th. The more it was reprinted, meant the more it was wanted and read by people. This gave me a great sense of joy for having been able to contribute to the world in such a way. Furthermore, “Earthquake ITSUMO Note for families”, the children’s version of “Earthquake ITSUMO Note” was published on September 1st of 2011.


Always with respect

When you interview the survivors, you need to be compassionate and respectful. It takes time to heal from the loss and each has to be digested by the individual. That is probably why it took 10 years after the disaster, not right after nor 5 years later, before this book could be produced.

I made a point of telling the stories with as little editing as possible. I worked with the humble awareness that my job was to convey the stories as they were told. If you are starting a project like this one, I encourage you to remember this attitude when telling the various lessons learned from disasters, and the knowledge and skills acquired through them.

Initial research


April 2007

Background and Objectives

It started from one of the college students’ ideas, “Creating a Manual That Is Not Called a Manual”, which was a part of the project to pass on the lessons learned from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake to the next generation. We presented the voices of the survivors (collected from interviews with 50 people and a survey from 117 people) to Bunpei Yorifuji. We first consulted him to design the manual and came up with the idea of publishing their voices without editing.The experiences of 167 survivors of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake were illustrated by Bunpei Yorifuji. Titled, “Disaster Prevention Mental Manual”, it proposes a new way to prepare for earthquakes with the emphasis on “everyday” not “someday”. (from the website)


The actual words of the survivors are accompanied by straightforward illustrations. It is a book of new ideas and preparation for disasters that readers can come up with by themselves based on the survivors’ experiences; their feelings and thoughts of that time.

Founder / Organizer

Picture: Bunpei Yorifuji, Editorial: Atsumi Kimihide, Planned by: Hirokazu Nagata Cosponsor: PLUS ARTS NPO

Related Articles: Primary Information

Earthquake ITSUMO Project

Earthquake ITSUMO + MUJI