What are the earthquake damage risk ratings for Tokyo?

The Bureau of Urban Development in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government conducts an earthquake risk assessment every 5 years, with the latest carried out in 2008. The investigation covers 5,073 neighborhoods.

They provide a rating for the following categories:

  • Vulnerability to Building Collapse (Ground liquefaction, Construction methods, Age of buildings etc)
  • Fire Hazard Rating (Spreading of fires, Fireproof buildings, firebreaks such as parks etc)
  • Overall Hazard Rating

The data can be viewed here (many of the charts have English translations).

What are the safest and most dangerous areas in Tokyo?

The safest areas in Tokyo:

Not surprisingly, the top ranked locations were parks and low-density neighborhoods in the western outskirts of Tokyo with very few buildings, including Hachioji City, Tama City and Chofu City to name a few. The Imperial Castle is also at the top of this list.

Minato-ku ranked highly with 90% of the area receiving a safety ranking level of 1 or 2, and only 2.5% of the area receiving a safety ranking of 4.


So where are the most at-risk areas in Tokyo?

Highest Vulnerability to Building Collapse:
1. Kyojima 2 Chome, Sumida-ku
2. Ryusen 3 Chome, Taito-ku
3. Sumida 3 Chome, Sumida-ku
4. Higashikomagata 2 Chome, Sumida-ku
5. Asakusa 5 Chome, Taito-ku

Highest Fire Hazard:
1. Yutakacho 5 Chome, Shinagawa-ku
2. Akagishitamachi, Shinjuku-ku
3. Futaba 3 Chome, Shinagawa-ku
4. Wakaba 3 Chome, Shinjuku-ku
5. Yutakacho 6 Chome, Shinagawa-ku

Overall Most Hazardous Areas:
1. Sumida 3 Chome, Sumida-ku
2. Wakaba 3 Chome, Shinjuku-ku
3. Machiya 4 Chome, Arakawa-ku
4. Futaba 3 Chome, Shinagawa-ku
5. Senjuyanagicho, Adachi-ku

The results are also indicated on maps that can be downloaded from the Tokyo Government site here.

What does the data tell us?

When looking at residential neighborhoods some of the safest areas are the far outskirts of the Tokyo Metropolis. Central Tokyo areas such as Minato-ku scored relatively high in terms of safety with 90% of the neighborhoods receiving a rating of 1 or 2 (low vulnerability). Overall, 45% of Tokyo was ranked as being of low vulnerability.

The most dangerous areas are the downtown “shitamachi” areas, including Sumida-ku and Asakusa in Taito-ku, as they have a lot of narrow streets and tightly packed older wooden structures which cause fires to spread quickly. In Taito-ku, 35% of the neighboorhoods are at high risk of buildings collapsing and fires spreading. Less than 5% of the Taito-ku area received a ranking of 1 (low vulnerability).

Taito ku fire
The aftermath of a fire in Taito-ku in February 2014.