fbpx 5 Earthquake Safety Tips for Shibuya Cafes

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that Japan is an island situated on a large volcanic fault line. Though earthquakes are not a regular occurrence, they will pop up unexpectedly and shake the place up every now and then.

During those times, you don’t want to be caught off guard, especially in a cafe when the risk of spilling your cute bear face latte all over those nice new Uniqlo jeans is at an all-time high. In light of these concerns, we’ve put together a quick guide to cafes and rated them based on certain earthquake safety tips. Because when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, at least the coffee’s on.

Lion Cafe

Earthquake tip: Remain inside until the shaking stops

View from the second floor balcony

Tucked away in the backstreets of Shibuya’s Dogenzaka neighborhood sits the Lion Cafe. Originally built in 1923, the firebombing of Tokyo during World War 2 destroyed the original building. However, it was rebuilt in the image of the first in 1950.

With its forward-facing seating and richly lacquered wooden furnishings, stepping through the front door is like stepping into another world. The hushed ambience also adds to that otherworldly aura. As does the ample selection of records that the staff regularly rotates.

While the cafe itself encompasses two floors, the entrance is on ground level, making evacuation in the event of a quake a safe and easy procedure. The stone building is also the perfect strength for withstanding the tremors that occur.

The only real worry would be that large sound system which sits atop the shelves and shelves of vinyl. It’s mostly likely securely fastened to the wall, but you may want to back away from that area when the shaking starts, just in case.

Safety Rating: * * * * *

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Living Room Cafe

Earthquake tip: Take cover under a table or desk

Checkered floor interior design

When an earthquake happens, a key tip is to drop to the floor and hide under a table or desk. The Living Room Cafe earns a huge plus for its safety rating thanks its table-centric layout. With seating for up to 300 people, this cafe is not only large, but offers a lot of space for people to hide.

Featuring a variety of sections themed after rooms in a home including the living area, dining area, dining counter, patio, as well as a center bar, and terrace, the Living Room Cafe also earns points for creativity.

The biggest downside to this cafe is the fact that it is on the 5th floor, making evacuation immediately following a quake slightly difficult. The large amount of people it accommodates will also add a bit to the confusion.

Safety Rating: * * * * *

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Risotto Cafe

Earthquake tip: Stay away from windows

Eclectic furniture and balcony view

The Risotto Cafe is located on the 7th floor of the Aoyama Land building in Shibuya’s Udagawa neighborhood. Much like the Living Room Cafe, the same caution should be taken into account when visiting a cafe in a tall building.

As its namesake implies, the Risotto Cafe boasts a large selection of risotto dishes. The quality of the food and the cozy atmosphere make it a great hangout spot. The couch seating and colorful decorations add big personality to the little space.

The large picture window and terrace seating are beautiful and perfect for relaxing but present a potential safety threat. If you are seated outside, it is best to move indoors and take cover. Stay well away from that large window as well as splintering glass is a large safety hazard during an earthquake.

Safety Rating: * * * * *

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Book Lab Tokyo

Earthquake tip: Keep well away from bookcases or other furniture

Yes, there are quite a few bookcases here. The name of the cafe is the Book Lab after all. But most of the taller ones are securely fastened to walls and there is such ample space inside the cafe that staying clearing of them is an easy task. And all of that space means that it never feels like you’re sitting on top of other customers like in some smaller cafes.

Looking more like a bookstore than a cafe, the Book Lab provides copious reading material for the duration of your cafe stay. another bonus is the many desks and tables that are perfect for hiding beneath.

If a quake does occur, all of the fallen books that will inevitably scatter across the ground will provide excellent cover for your head. Another often unremarked safety tip is to keep your noggin covered with something as you wander around after the quake to protect from falling debris. A nice hardbound book could become the perfect makeshift helmet.

Safety Rating: * * * * *

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Udagawa Cafe Bekkan

Earthquake tip: Remain calm as the quake occurs

While the above safety tips should absolutely be adhered to during an earthquake, paramount during any dangerous event is keeping a cool head.

It won’t be hard to do that at Udagawa Cafe Bekkan. With its dark floors and rich wooden accents, this arty place boasts a cool ambiance and relaxing atmosphere. Despite the fact that the cafe is located on the 6th floor, the calming effects of Udagawa Cafe Bekkan should alleviate any potential stresses that would usually surface in the event of an earthquake evacuation.

Keep calm and remain safe. Udagawa Cafe Bekkan will definitely help you hold these two thoughts in your head as you deal with a natural disaster situation.

Safety Rating: * * * * *

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Always remember, earthquakes are not a “what if” story. Don’t take my word for it, just look at this manga from Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Be sure to follow safety guidelines during an earthquake. If you’re living in Tokyo and are unsure of the actions you should take, check the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Disaster Preparedness guide.