Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kyoto: Fortress of Solitude

Most people who live in Kyoto realize that any tsunami big enough to tackle our city would be big enough to destroy the rest of the earth so there is really no point in fretting over it. However, a lot of our family members and friends don't live here and have been expressing a reasonable amount of concern over the issue. I am making this so that you can pass it on to them.

When the location for the new capital was being scouted in the 700s, court geomancers remarked that the city was well protected in the northwest by Atagosan and in the northeast by Hieizan two mountains that tower over the city today. The mountains are part of several groups of mountains, Higashiyama, Nishiyama and Kitayama, that surround the city on three side creating the Yamashiro Basin which is listed by Wikipedia as having an average elevation of around 1,000 meters. But that is a bit misleading. A good portion of the city itself is at an average elevation of around 86 meters forming a basin known as a 'bonchi.'

Here is a very good map with certain points marked by elevation. My apartment is directly across the street from number 1 on this map.

Two major rivers run through the city and feed into the Yodo River which flows on to Osaka and into Osaka Bay which opens onto the Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

It is roughly 30 miles between Osaka and Kyoto.
Just to speculate, A tsunami would have to come into Osaka Bay, over the city of Osaka-a substantial metropolis-up the Yodo River for 30 miles climbing close to 100 meters in elevation to damage Kyoto. I don't want to tempt fate, but that is highly unlikely. Or, a Tsunami could begin in the Sea of Japan, scale a mountain range and attack from the north. Also highly unlikely.

If you are unfamiliar with the area, please note that the large body of water you sea directly to the east of Kyoto (although not on these maps) is Biwako, the largest lake in Japan. It is not connected to the sea.

Now, all of this is not to say that there is no worry of earthquakes in Kyoto. There are fault lines in the city. But that applies to anywhere in Japan. We also have a lot of green space, a large aquifer, no high rise buildings (not that high rises are dangerous and smaller ones are safe necessarily) and many broad streets.

One further note for those not familiar with Japanese geography.

We live in Kansai. Or, the area on this map labled 'Kinki.' You can stop laughing now. You should see the shirts that say "All Kinki Girl's Softball Tournament." The earthquake happened in Tohoku. Tokyo is in Kanto. We are over 500km away from the damage. Which is the hardest part really.

Thank you for your concern and I hope this makes you feel better.

(if there are any mistakes in my data, please let me know. there were lots of conflicting average elevations)


Caitlin said...

Thank you for making this. I know it must have been repetitive answering all the same questions about your safety but I appreciate you doing so without a fuss. Anyway, this really clears up the issue and now I know more Japanese geography. Horray. Glad to know you are safe and sound.

Anonymous said...

Благодарю за информацию действительно увлекательно, однако меня также интересуют и новости голографии. Надо же развиваться в области голографии

Caitlin said...

That comment is thanking you for the "captivating post" and saying that you should be informed in the field of holography.


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