Track of Typhoon Tokage
beginning with the blue
An average of 2.6 typhoons have made landfall on the four major islands of Japan since records on typhoons have been kept starting in 1951. No typhoons made landfall in 1984, 1986, 2000 and 2008. A record 10 made landfall in 2004. These typhoons kill and injure people, close factories and cause the cancellation of trains and flights. Often times heavy rains cause more damage than strong winds. The dead usually drown in floods or die in landslides.

On average 10.3 typhoons a year approach within 300 kilometers of the coast of Japan. Years in which 12 or more strike this areas are known as years with many typhoons. Years with eight or less are known as having “few” typhoons. Most make land fall in Okinawa or south Kyushu, particularly Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures.

Okinawa lies right in the heart of Typhoon Alley. It gets hit by an average of seven storms a year that have hurricane strength winds, sometimes up to 190 miles per hour. Finances for the families of Okinawan fishermen are often in the name of the wife in case the fisherman go out to sea and don’t return.

Flood prevention measures, improved planning and construction and storm and flood warning that began in earnest in the 1960s have dramatically reduced the number of people killed in typhoons. Even the most destructive storms today rarely kill more than a dozen people. By contrast, typhoons after World War II often took hundreds of lives.

Japan has special search and rescue units that have been trained to help during typhoons. They rescue people with helicopters, provide rafts for people trapped in flood waters and rig ropes to help people caught it raging rivers. The Japanese government has a system to estimate abnormally high tides during typhoons to help protect areas around coasts and ports.

When the center of the typhoon comes within 300 kilometers of Japan, the Meteorological Agency declares that a typhoon is approaching. An average of about 11 typhoons approach Japan every year. An average of three, excluding those that hit Okinawa and other islands, make landfall.

The most devastating typhoon since World War II was the Isewan Typhoon, which hit the Tokai region in September 1959. More than 5,000 people were killed or went missing. The most severe typhoon in recent years was Typhoon No. 23, which hit Japan in October 2004. It brought heavy rain to a wide area from Kyushu to central Japan, and flooded rivers in Hyogo Prefecture and northern Kyoto Prefecture. A total of 98 people were killed.

Websites and Resources

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Typhoon Talim in September 2005
Links in this Website: LAND AND GEOGRAPHY OF JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; STORMS, FLOODS AND SNOW IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; TYPHOONS Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; TYPHOONS IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; NATURAL RESOURCES AND JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan

Good Websites and Sources on Climate and Weather: Good Photos of the Seasons at Japan-Photo Archive japan-photo.de ; Statistical Handbook of Japan Land and Weather Chapter stat.go.jp/english/data/handbook ; 2010 Edition stat.go.jp/english/data/nenkan ; News stat.go.jp Japan Meteorological Agency Japan Meteorological Agency ; Weather Underground wunderground.com/global/JP ; Weather Channel Weather Channel ;World Climate World Climate ; Accuweather Accuweather ; Climate Data climatetemp.info/japan ;Wikipedia article on Geography of Japan Wikipedia ;

Good Websites and Sources of Storms and Floods: Weather Warnings from Japan Meteorological Agency jma.go.jp/en/warn ; Marine Warnings from Japan Meteorological Agency jma.go.jp/en/seawarn ; Wikipedia article on Snow Country in Japan Wikipedia ; Landslide Distribution Map bosai.go.jp/en ; BBC Picture Gallery of Flood in Japan news.bbc.co.uk ; Academic Paper of Flood Maps in Japan internationalfloodnetwork.org ; Tornados in Japan Survey by the American Meteorological Society ams.allenpress.com ; BBC report on 2006 Tornado bbc.co.uk

Typhoons: Typhoon and Hurricane Basics aoml.noaa.gov ; Data and Images from Pacific Typhoons eorc.jaxa.jp/ADEOS Typhoon and Hurricane Satellite Images and Photos fotosearch.com ; Video from Nasty Typhoon in Taiwan YouTube ; Typhoon Video YouTube ; Wikipedia article on Tropical Cyclones Wikipedia ; National Hurricane Center at the National Weather Service nhc.noaa.gov

Typhoons in Japan : Typhoon and Tropical Cyclone Information from the Japan Meteorological Agency Japan Meteorological Agency ; Video of Typhoon Surfing in Japan YouTube ; Brochure on Typhoons in Japan pdf file rms.com/Publications ; Good Japan Times article on Typhoons in Japan search.japantimes.co.jp ; Digital Typhoon Information from the and United States Navy agora.ex.nii.ac.jp/digital-typhoon ; Ise-Wan Typhoon Wikipedia article on the 1959 Ise-wan Typhoon (Typhoon Vera) wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Vera ; U.S. Navy Report on the 1959 Ise-wan Typhoon pdf file usno.navy.mil and usno.navy.mil ; Lessons from the Isewan Typhoon pdf file katrina.lsu.edu/downloads/Typhoon_Isewan

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Nabi supertyphoon in September 2005

Typhoons Weather Patterns in Japan

In recent years, pressure trends — namely a high pressure in the Sea of Okhotsk off of eastern Russia and low pressure east of the Philippines — have drawn typhoons to Japan. Research has shown that years in which many typhoon strike Japan high pressure systems in the Pacific move east. An increase in the number of typhoons and a doubling in the occurrences of heavy rainfall have been blamed on global warming.

Typhoons that normally move westward south of Japan have been veering northward and spending about twice as much time in the Okinawa area. Between 1951 and 1998 typhoons spent an average of 74 hours around Okinawa Prefecture. Between 1999 and 2004, the spent 179 hours with a record of 276 hours in 2000. The changes is thought to be due to the northward shift of high pressure over the Pacific, which is also thought to be behind heavy rainfalls in the Kanto and Tohuku regions in recent years.

No typhoons made landfall in Japan in 2008 for the first time since 2002. This was attributed to “snaking westerlies” — winds that undulate north and south like a snake while moving towards the east — as opposed to the normal west-to-east westerly winds. The snaking pattern was caused by the movement of a large high pressure cell which usually sits over Japan in the summer to the Pacific off of Japan, causing typhoons to move towards the east south of Japan. Several typhoon just skirted the Japanese mainland, bringing some heavy rains to places.

Autumn typhoons in Japan are often severe. According to the Meteorological Agency, an average of 26 typhoons hit Japan annually. They come most frequently in August, but the majority of the damage occurs in September or later. During that time, autumn rain fronts often stay near Japan, and moist winds can blow from the eastern side of a typhoon toward the rain front to cause heavy rain.

Typhoon-Like Storms in Japan

typhoon damage
Japan can also gets typhoon-force wind with early winter storms caused by low pressure system in the Pacific Ocean. One such storm in December 2004 produced wind gusts up to 172 kilometers per hour, and caused ships to run aground and roofs to blow off buildings. Japan can also get typhoon-like downpours from summer rains, particularly from system that stall over mountainous areas.

A storm in February 2008 produce heavy snows and winds that created tsunami like waves on the Japan Sea in Toyama Prefecture and killed three people and flooded scores of homes. The dead included a fisherman whose boat was overturned and a man asphyxiated in a car covered with snow. In Toyama several people were injured after struck by cars and fishing boats pushed inland by the tsunami-like waves.

Destructive Typhoons in Japan

Typhoon Kathleen in September 1947 was the largest post-war typhoon. It struck the Kanto area caused the banks of the Tonegawa and Arakawa rivers to overspill their banks, flooding 380,000 houses. About 1,900 people were killed.

The Isewan Typhoon of 1959 was one of the most destructive ever. It left 5,098 people dead or missing. The Makurazaki Typhoon in 1945 left 3,756 dead. A typhoon in October 1979, killed 115 people. Several hundred people were killed by typhoons in 1983. A total of 117 of them were victims of heavy rain in the Sanin region.

Typhoon 11, which struck the Tokyo area in late August 2001, left 6 dead and 26 injured and forced Honda and Toyota to suspend car production. Typhoon Danes, which struck the Tokyo area in mid September the same year killed five and injured 21. More than 52,000 people were forced spend the night in trains and stations after the main Shinkansen line between Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo was shut down.

A strong typhoon striking the Kanto area could flood 900,000 homes and affect 2.4 million people.

Isewan Typhoon

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Kanogawa Typhoon in 1958
The Isewan (Ise Bay) Typhoon of 1950 caused the heaviest typhoon damage in Japan since the mid 1800s. More than 5,000 people died or went missing as sea water levels rose as much as five meters and surging tides smacked into low-lying area like a tsunami. Many of the dead lived in coast al areas swallowed up by tidal surges.

Experts have estimated that the death toll could have been as low 250 if thorough evacuation procedures had been enforced. Even back then weather observatories correctly predicted the typhoons strength and course and issued warnings seven hours before the typhoon made landfall. Nagoya suffered the worst damage. Local police there acted independently and only instructed people in some areas to evacuate and even then they did so when winds and rain were near their peaks. The former town of Kuso in Mie Prefecture, by contrast, issued an evacuation order, four hours before the storm hit and not a single life was lost even though the town was devastated.

Two years after the typhoon, new laws were passed that spelled out how municipal and village mayors were to issue evacuation orders and instructions. New sea walls and levees were built to protect people in vulnerable areas.

Typhoons in Japan in 2004

Japan was struck by record number of typhoons in 2004. Ten typhoon hit Japan, the highest number since the government began keep records of such storms. The previous postwar high number of typhoons was six. The storms killed more than 240 people, the most since 1983. The high number of typhoons was attributed to warm water off the Philippines and the location of high pressure zones which directed the typhoons towards Japan rather than China. In the late summer and earlier autumn they were striking at a rate of almost one a week. Much of the damage was caused by heavy rains not high winds. In some hard hit areas, volunteers from other places arrived and helped with clean up and repairs.

In June 2004, typhoon No. 6 killed four people and injured 40 in Shikoku and around Osaka. Among the dead were a man washed out to sea in Wakayama Prefecture, a man electrocuted while rigging an extension chord outside his house. Earlier in the month typhoon No. 4 hit Shikoku. It was the first time on record that two typhoons struck Japan in June. In July 2004, floods and landslides caused by torrential rains killed people in the Minamoto area of Kyushu and the Fukui area of western Japan.

In August 2004, typhoon No. 15 killed nine people in southern Japan and trapped 134 school children were trapped at a camp-cram-school. The dead were mostly elderly people either washed away in flood waters or buried in landslides. Several were found dead in irrigation canals. Typhoon No. 16, which hit the same month, drenched almost the entire Japanese archipelago and left 13 dead.

In September 2004, typhoon No. 17 killed seven people and struck all the major islands of Japan. Among the dead were two elderly farmers washed away by a swollen river and a women who was blown off a roof as she tried to fix it.

In September 2004, typhoon No. 18 killed 62 people and injured 900. The seventh typhoon of the season to strike Japan, it hit southern Honshu particularly hard, generating 130mph winds that ripped out trees in Hiroshima’s Peace Park, overturned freighters with produced gigantic waves. Fourteen foreign sailors died in accidents that included the overturning of a ship full of Russian logs and the sinking of a 6,315 ton freighter that was driven on to rocks. The 14th century Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Hiroshima, was badly damaged.

Typhoon No. 21, which struck at tend end of September, killed 25 people. Shikoku and Mie Prefecture near Osaka and Nagoya were the hardest hit. A landside that buried much of a settlement along a river killed 10 people.

Typhoon No. 23 in Japan in 2004

Typhoon Tokage
In October 2004, Typhoon Tokage, struck Japan, killing 90 people, injuring more than 500, and causing around $10 billion in damage. More than 21,000 houses were flooded and 382 houses were destroyed or damaged. It was the worst typhoon in a quarter century and the 10th and final typhoon to strike the main islands of Japan.

Typhoon Tokage, also known as typhoon No. 23, struck Kochi prefecture particularly hard, with damage particularly heavy in areas where the typhoon collided with an autumnal rain front. About $5 billion of losses were attributed to damage to bridges, roads, and other infrastructure. The other $5 billion was mostly agricultural losses. Damage in agricultural areas caused sharp rises in the rice of vegetables. In some places heads of cabbage and lettuce were selling for than $15 each,

Most of the dead were killed in floods or landslides. More than two thirds of them were 60 or older. There were more than 700 landslides and mudslides. More than 600 people evacuate to their homes. Many were in areas were rivers burst through levees and flooded large areas.

Dramatic footage broadcast repeatedly on television showed a group of 37 mostly elderly people being plucked off a bus by helicopters. The bus had been swallowed up by flood waters. No one was hurt, but the people, including an 87-year-old man, spent nine hours on the roof of the bus in the rain before they were rescued. The survivors said they that around 2:00am the flood waters reached their waists as they stood on the bus. They sang songs such as “Sukiyaki” to stay warm and keep their spirits up

When Typhoon No. 23 hit, Japan was still picking up the pieces from Typhoon No. 22 (Typhoon Ma-on) which killed six people and struck Tokyo earlier in the month. Winds from No. 22 reached 243 kilometers per hour and rain feel at rate of 69 millimeters an hour. That storm stalled over Tokyo, paralyzing the city for one day.

Typhoons in Japan in 2005 and 2006

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Morakot in August 2009
In August 2005, Typhoon 11 hit Honshu with gusts that reached 240kph. The storm passed almost directly over Tokyo, drenching the Kanto area with torrential rains that fell at a rate of almost a centimeter an hour. Houses were inundated with water; residents spent the night at shelters. One man died after he slipped and was swept away by fast moving water.

In September 2005, typhoon No. 13 struck Kyushu and Shikoku very hard, killing nine and injuring 330. Winds as high as 180kph were recorded. Three people were killed in Saga Prefecture when their vehicle was trapped by a landslide and they were buried by a second landslide.

In September 2005, typhoon No. 14 struck Kyushu particularly hard, leaving 27 dead. People were killed by landslides or swept away by flash floods. Record rain rainfall were recorded in 57 locations, including Saijo on Shikoku which received 75.7 centimeters. Massive mudslides occurred in Kagoshima and Miyazki Prefecture,

In September 2006, Typhoon 13 struck Kyushu with high winds and flooding, killing nine and injuring 328.

Typhoons in Japan in 2007 and 2008

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Typhoon in Maemi in the
Sea of Japan in September 2003
In July 2007, a supertyphoon — typhoon Man-Yi or typhoon No.4 — struck Okinawa but damage was relatively light. Eight people were hurt and a couple dozen houses were flooded. One man was seriously hurt when he was blown off a roof while repairing a television antenna wire. Light trucks were overturned by the winds and pushed into other vehicles. More than 300 flights were cancelled and 99,400 households lost electricity. The storm produced seven meter waves and 252 kilometer per winds and caused a Chinese freighter to sink 600 kilometers northwest of Guam, killing 13 people.

After slowing down to a near typhoon, Typhoon No. 4 walloped southern Japan , killing three, injuring 790 and destroying dozens of homes. Heavy rains, strong winds and landslides and the threat of landslides forced thousands from their homes.

In August 2007, typhoon No. 5 made landfall near Hyogo, Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu. Fourteen people were injured, including a woman who broke here arm after being blown over by strong winds. Around 300 flights, affecting 40,000 people, were cancelled. Trains service was suspended. Blackouts affected around 9,000 households in Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures. Winds of 126 kilometers per hour were recorded.

In September 2007, typhoon No. 9 struck the Kanto area around Tokyo, Hokkaido and Tohuku region of northern Japan, killing two people and injuring 70. On person was skilled by a falling tree and another was trapped by a landslide. It was the first typhoon to strike the Tokyo area in more than two years. More than 200 flights were cancelled. Shinkansen train service was suspended. The Tamagawa river in Tokyo, came near to flooding. More than 30 people mostly homeless people had ro be rescued. In Tokyo two cargos ships collided after dragging their anchors. In Gunma Prefecture, surging river caused the collapse of the only road of a town of 250. Winds of 126 kilometers per hour were recorded.

Winds of 216 kph were recorded In Okinawa during typhoon No 15 in October, 2007

No typhoons made landfall on the four major islands of Japan in 2008.

Typhoons in 2009

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Typhoon Sinlaku in 2002
In August 2009, 13 people died and 15 were missing when Typhoon No. 9 struck central Japan, with the worst hit areas south of Osaka in Hyogo and Okayama Prefectures. Twelve of the dead and eight of the missing were caught up in floods in Hyogo Prefecture. Some of them were washed away by flooded rivers, caused by heavy rains that fell at rates exceeding 70 millimeters an hour, as they tried to make their way to evacuation centers. Six people from two families reported missing are believed to have been swept away by the swollen Sayogawa River.

In October 2009, typhoon No. 18 made landfall near Nagoya with heavy rains and 150 kph winds and tore through an area west and north of Tokyo, killing two people, injuring 49, flooding 440 buildings, forcing the evacuation of 4,200 people and causing major disruptions to the transportation network as trains in the Tokyo area suspended service during the morning rush hour as the typhoon raged through there.

Tornado-like swirls of wind caused major damage in two towns in Ibaraki Prefecture. The owner of sweets store in the town of Ryungasaki said, “Heard a roar shortly before 4 am and there was an impact that felt like a bomb. I found my shop, which is in front of my house, had been moved about 50 centimeters by the winds and its roof was blown off.”

In Aichi Prefecture the winds were strong enough on one bridge to blow over four- and 20-ton trucks. The driver of one truck told the Yomiuri Shimbun, “As the truck body leaned to one side in the gusting wind, I gripped the wheel tight, But the truck body flipped and was lifted by winds on both sides. After that, the truck rolled over.” Winds of 136 kph were recorded in the area.

Typhoons in Japan in 2010

Only two typhoons made landfall in Japan in 2010: the season’s forth typhoon in August and the ninth in September. In 2010, only 14 tropical depressions developed into typhoons, the smallest figure since 1951 when comparable data was first made available. A Pacific high pressure system that brought record-breaking summer temperature also curbed cumulonimbus cloud activity that spawns typhoons in waters around the Philippines. The El Nino pattern also helped stop tropical depression from developing into typhoons.

The first typhoon of the 2010 season made landfall in mid August, roaring ashore in Akita Prefecture in northern Japan after following a track just offshore in the Japan Sea, bringing heavy rain to a large area of the country. Typhoon No. 9 struck central Japan in September with heavy rains that caused landslides which cut off roads in Kanagawa and Shizuoka Prefectures.

The Japanese government’s Central Disaster Management Council estimated that 7,600 people could die from tidal waves and 280 square kilometers could be swamped if a typhoon as strong as the 1934 Murato Typhoon strikes Tokyo. Most of the dead would likely be swept up away by rushing water or trapped on the low floors of buildings.


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Damage in Kasugi from
Typhoon on Sept 21 2011
In 2011, a total of nine typhoons approached Japan. Three of them--Typhoon No. 6, No. 12 and No. 15--made landfall causing serious damage. In September 2011, Typhoon No. 12 raged northward from Shikoku to the Chugoku region, while Typhoon No. 15 landed in Shizuoka Prefecture. The two storms ultimately left 112 people dead or missing amid record rainfall and damage. In the case of Typhoon No. 15, evacuation advisories and orders were issued for about 1.4 million people, mainly in the Tokai region.

The Yomiuri Shimbun,reported: What was common to these three typhoons was their relatively slow speed and strength. Usually, a typhoon weakens as it moves northward due to cooler sea temperatures. However, when Typhoon No. 6, No. 12 and No. 15 approached Japan, seawater temperatures around the country were between 28 C and 29 C, about 1 C higher than normal. The core atmospheric pressure of Typhoon No. 15 dropped by 35 hectopascals 24 hours after it entered the sea near Japan and rose to 940 hectopascals at its peak strength. The Meteorological Agency said: "The typhoon was just above the Japan Current and there is a possibility that the current, which transfers a large amount of heat from the tropical zone to the temperate zone, supplied energy to the typhoon." [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 5, 2011]

Typhoon No. 6 landed in Tokushima Prefecture on July 20 and Typhoon No. 12 landed in Kochi Prefecture on Sept. 3. Typhoon No. 15, however, gathered strength as it moved from the sea off Okinawa Prefecture to the sea off western Japan--going from "strong" to "very strong" under the agency's classification--before eventually touching down in Shizuoka Prefecture on Sept. 21. The last typhoon of such power hit the prefecture was Typhoon No. 13 in Sept. 1993.

Record rainfall was recorded this summer, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported, as Typhoon No. 12 brought more than 2,000 millimeters of torrential rain to the Kii Peninsula (2,439 millimeters was recorded at Kamikatayamamura in Nara Prefecture) , and Typhoon No. 15 brought more than 1,000 millimeters of rain to parts of the Kyushu and Shikoku regions (including 1,128 millimeters was recorded at Misatocho in Miyazaki Prefecture) . [Source: Masaru Kawanishi and Takashi Ito, Yomiuri Shimbun, October 5, 2011]

Typhoons in 2011 Slowed Over Land by Low Pressure Systems

While the strength of a typhoon mainly depends on the sea for energy, its speed is determined by various factors, such air pressure systems, wind, and other typhoons. Around September, a high pressure system is normally seen above the sea east of the country that blows wind clockwise. Unable to enter the high pressure system, a typhoon is forced northward along the system's edge. The typhoon then usually feeds on westerly winds, which drive it northeast at a speed of 50 kph to 60 kph.

When Typhoon No. 12 and No. 15 approached Japan, however, the western edge of the high pressure system was covering a part of Japan, which prevented the typhoons from heading northward. As the westerly winds were further north than they are in a normal year, the typhoons remained above the sea in the south. Meanwhile, warm and humid air around the typhoons kept blowing into areas near Japan. Because typhoons rotate counterclockwise, wind on the east side of the typhoon blew northward, or toward the mainland.

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Typhoon tracks in 2011

As this wind hit the Kii Mountain Range and the south slopes of the central mountains, the ascending air current created wide rain clouds. As a result, rain started falling even before the typhoons arrived. Typhoon No. 12, which was blocked by a high pressure system from the Chinese mainland, moved at an average speed of about 12 kph, the same speed as a bicycle. At times it slowed to 5 kph or walking speed.

When Typhoon No. 15 was centered over the sea off Okinawa Prefecture, it was easier for warm, humid air to enter into the autumn rain front above the Tohoku region. As a result, rain also fell in the region before the typhoon landed there. At 42 locations between Okinawa and Miyagi prefectures, the total amount of rainfall recorded during that time was more than double that of September in a normal year.

Typhoon No. 6, meanwhile, made a sharp turn near the south coast of western Japan and headed southeast. Just like a car that slows down when making a sharp turn, a typhoon slows down when it changes its course, resulting in longer bouts of rain.

Rain from Typhoon No. 12 in 2011 Kills at Least 25 and Maroons Thousands in Japan

Japan was hit by a devastating typhoon — known both as Typhoon Talas and Typhoon No. 12 — in September 2011 that struck the Kii peninsula in Wakayama and Nara Prefectures, east of Osaka, particularly hard. Four days after the disaster 42 people were confirmed dead and 56 were missing. The typhoon packed winds of 144 kilometers per hour when it made landfall in Shikoku. Some places received more than 1.8 meters of rain. Massive landslides that sent entire mountain slopes crashing into narrow river valleys below. In Nachikatsuurachom two thirds of a 39-meter-long iron bridge over the Nachigawa river collapsed and two women died after they were swept away by the same river. It was the country’s worst storm since one in 2004 that left 98 people either dead or missing.

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Tokushima during Typhoon on Sept 21 2011

AP reported: “Typhoon Talas dumped record amounts of rain in western and central Japan on Sunday, killing at least 25 people and stranding thousands as it turned towns into lakes, washed away cars and set off mudslides that buried or destroyed houses. At least 50 people were missing, the Japanese news media reported. The typhoon dumped record amounts of rain in some areas, and more was expected. Evacuation orders and advisories were issued to 460,000 people in the region, which is hundreds of miles from the country’s tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast. At least 3,600 people were stranded by flooded rivers, landslides and collapsed bridges, which were hampering rescue efforts, the Kyodo News agency reported. The public broadcaster NHK showed a bridge that was swept away after intense rain caused a river to swell into a brown torrent. People holding umbrellas waded through knee-deep water in city streets and residential areas. [Source: Associated Press, September 4, 2011]

One landslide there buried three homes; a woman was killed and four people were missing, but a 14-year-old girl was rescued from the debris. In nearby Nara Prefecture, seven people were reported missing after their homes were swept down a river, NHK said. A 73-year-old man died in Nara when his house collapsed in a landslide, the police said.

One person died and seven were missing in Totsukawamura, Nara Prefecture, due to flooding of the dammed-up Kumanogawa river. A 50-year-old man living near the site told the Yomiuri Shimbun: "This area was supposed to be safe and free from river flooding. The water changed into a roaring river, brown from the typhoon."

The storm also damaged Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto, tearing a large piece of plaster from the gate wall. It also badly damaged the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Huge landslides occurred within the site on ancient roads known as Kumano Kodo, and there was also damage to the Kumano Sanzan shrines. It may take several years to restore the areas to their original state. According to the Wakayama Prefecture Board of Education, nearly 100 meters of the Kumano Kodo collapsed about one kilometer east of Mikoshi Pass in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture.

The center of Talas crossed the southern island of Shikoku and the central part of the main island of Honshu overnight. It moved slowly north across the Sea of Japan off the country’s western coast, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Because of the storm’s slow speed, heavy rains and strong winds hits some places particularly hard. With the ground already soaked, there were fears of additional mudslides even after the typhoon had passed.

It took some time to repair roads. Mud in the river water contaminated water supplies for several towns. Landslides dammed off rivers, causing huge builds up water behind them. There were worries that another storm or more heavy rain could cause the dams to collapse, sending tsunami-like flash floods down the river.

Record rainfall was recorded as Typhoon No. 12 brought more than 2,000 millimeters of torrential rain to the Kii Peninsula (2,439 millimeters was recorded at Kamikatayamamura in Nara Prefecture).

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Nagoya after Typhoon on Sept 21 2011

Survivors and Victims of Typhoon No. 12 in 2011

Three people have died and nine are missing in Totsukawamura, which has been cut off by landslides and collapsed bridges. The telephone lines are also down. According to Tetsufumi Nakamoto, a 46-year-old teacher who contacted Totsukawa High School via e-mail, about 75 students who had stayed in the school's dormitory moved to the school gymnasium Sunday, as the water level of the nearby Kumanogawa river was rising. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, September 6, 2011]

The school is located in a valley and a bridge to the north had collapsed. As Nakamoto was in Kashiba in the prefecture when the typhoon hit the area, he said he was unable to return to the school. "Neither I nor the students can do anything. I heard there was some food at the school but I'm worried about the students if they have to remain there very long," he said.

Danzo Mori, 82, who lived in the village, was found dead near the Kumanogawa river on Monday by police officers from Gojo Police Station. Mori's wife Katsuko, 79, and their acquaintance Takeo Ichihara, 90, who had taken refuge at Mori's house, are still missing.

About 70 people of 40 households in the Fudono district of Tanabe voluntarily evacuated to Fudono Primary School on Sunday night, following a large landslide that left some people dead or missing. Of them, 20 people of six households were still taking shelter there two days later. At first, there was great confusion at the school as some people whose houses had been destroyed arrived at the school in clothes covered with mud. However, situation ultimately calmed down and the evacuees started cooking meals using items they had brought with them, as gas was available in the school's domestic science classroom. Junichi Taniguchi, the district chief, was angry. "The municipal government didn't issue any evacuation order. We had no idea what to do in the face of such a big disaster," he said. Within 24 hours power was restored and blankets and other supplies were delivered.

Mutsuko Takehara, who lives in the Izeki district of Nachikatsuuracho, said she was waiting to be rescued early Sunday when a large quantity of mud flowed into her house. During her ordeal, she said she munched on sweets and drank rainwater collected in a basin. "Water suddenly poured into the house," she said. "I've lived here for 50 years, but this is the first time I've seen so much rain pour into the house." In the Ichinono district of the same town, firefighters took a 73-year-old man who was receiving dialysis treatment to a hospital at around 8:30 a.m. Monday. They had to use a power shovel to transport him some of the way because a landslide had made a road impassable.

Town Struck by Typhoon 12 in 2011

Atsushi Taketazu wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “Tsukawamura, Nara--Yamaten — a community with only six households perched on a hill high — was battered by typhoon No. 12. "I had never seen rainfall as heavy as that. I thought everything would be washed away," said Toshiko Matsuba, 77, who lives in Yamaten with her husband. Matsuba sighed as she cast a glance at driftwood and stones swept away by water and mud. All the houses in the community survived the onslaught, but some of the terraced rice paddies collapsed, and part of the road linking the settlement with other districts subsided. Power and telephone lines were cut. [Source: Atsushi Taketazu, Yomiuri Shimbun, October 2011]

“Neighboring communities helped Yamaten residents build a bridge with a fallen tree to open an emergency road through mountain forests. In mid-September when Typhoon No. 15 was approaching, however, Yamaten's residents evacuated to the homes of relatives and elsewhere, leaving a ghost town behind. When Yuriko Nakaminami, 76, and her husband returned to their home on Sept. 27 for the first time in two weeks, they found a note at the entrance left by a local municipal office employee. The note read: "Are you OK? I'll come back later." As she read the note again and again, Nakaminami said she felt a deep sense of relief at finally being able to return home. While the Nakaminamis were away, a clock that had been mounted on their living room wall 122 years ago--around the time when the area was hit by a major flood in the Kumanogawa river basin-- kept ticking steadily.

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Kyoto after Typhoon on Sept 21 2011

Survivors and Victims of a Landslide from Typhoon No. 12

More than 8,000 were still stranded in Wakayama and Nara Prefectures four days after the heaviest rain even though helicopters had been sent in to rescue marooned people. After being rescued, one person told the Yomiuri Shimbun, "A mud slide came very close to my neighborhood, so I ran as fast as I could up a hill behind my house," said Tadayoshi Nakamoto, a 62-year-old farmer. "We were cut off for two days, and I was worried the whole time."[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, September 7, 2011]

On victims of a mud slide in a mountainous area about 10 kilometers from central Tanabe, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “At about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Kimio Uchikoshi was woken up by what sounded like boulders rolling outside. In the darkness he struggled in vain to open his bedroom door. Upon hearing the sound of window panes shattering, he and his wife fled barefoot through a window to a nearby field.

The mud slide triggered by the heavy rainfall brought by Typhoon No. 12 destroyed six houses in the district and four people went missing, including members of Uchikoshi's family — his 88-year-old mother, Ayako, and his two sons, Keita, 17, a third-year student at the prefectural Kumano High School, and Yuki, 16, a second-year student at the prefectural Tanabe High School,

After escaping from the mud slide, Uchikoshi desperately called out the names of his three children--his two sons and his 14-year-old daughter, Tomoko, a third-year middle school student. A moment later, he heard a crunching sound made by the collapsing pillars of his house, which was then swallowed up by the large mud slide. Although he anxiously wanted to look for his children, he was distracted by somebody else's voice calling for help. He was also tied up looking for three of his neighbors, who also went missing. About four hours later, his daughter, muddy from top to bottom, was rescued. "All I could say to her was, 'I'm sorry,'" Uchikoshi said. "If I'd noticed the [mud slide] five minutes earlier, I could have helped my whole family escape."

Toshihito Uchikoshi, 18, a childhood friend of Keita Uchikoshi who lives near the site of the mud slide, said he received a phone call from Keita around the time of the disaster. When he pressed the answer button, he heard no sound, then the call was cut off. "I think he wanted me to call rescue personnel, but I couldn't do anything," said Toshihito.

Landslides from Typhoon No. 12

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Nagoya after Typhoon on Sept 21 2011
Typhoon No. 12 brought record rainfall to the Kii Peninsula, where fragile bedrock allowed massive amounts of rainwater to permeate underground. This has sparked concerns that more deep-seated landslides could occur in the region.

Large mud slides in Wakayama and Nara prefectures resulting from Typhoon No. 12 are suspected of being deep-seated landslides, according to a specialist. Unlike shallow landslides in which topsoil 0.5 meters to 2 meters deep comes loose, the bedrock beneath the topsoil also moves in deep-seated landslides, causing enormous damage.

Kyoji Sassa, a professor emeritus of Kyoto University, analyzed news photos following maTyphoon No. 12 of a mud slide in the Fudono district of Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, and suspects it is a deep-seated landslide. He also believes a mountain collapse in Gojo, Nara Prefecture, could be a deep-seated landslide.

Asahiko Taira, a geologist and executive director of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, said the Kii Peninsula is formed with Shimanto-tai strata, which are highly prone to landslides.The strata began forming 20 million to 100 million years ago by colliding tectonic plates. In a process of repeated collisions and transformations, land mass was pushed upward and cracks dozens of meters deep were formed, which is where rainwater can accumulate.

"The deep-seated landslides were caused as rainwater infiltrated deep cracks over long periods of time," Sassa said. "Similar large-scale collapses may occur when [the strata] absorb large quantities of water."

Sassa has warned the peninsula will frequently be hit with similar landslides in the future due to its geological features. According to a map of areas that could be hit by deep-seated landslides drawn up by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in August 2010 about 34 percent of the land in Nara Prefecture is at particularly high risk. The map also indicates the remaining areas of the prefecture and neighboring Wakayama Prefecture are also at high risk of deep-seated landslides.

The region’s geology also fueled flooding in the rivers. Kazuya Inoue, a professor emeritus at Kyoto University who specializes in river engineering, told the Yomiuri Shimbun: "The area along the Kumanogawa river used to be one of the nation's major lumber regions...Due to the decline in the forestry business, however, the area fell into ruin, and the absorption capacity of trees and soil deteriorated. This likely resulted in a massive discharge of water [from mountains]."

Typhoon No. 15

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Toyota City after Typhoon on Sept 21 2011 In late September 2011, typhoon No. 15 (also known as Typhoon Roke) swept through the Japanese archipelago, causing massive damage in wide areas of western, eastern and northern Japan before heading out to sea east of Hokkaido. The storm left 15 people dead or missing, injured dozens of others and caused millions of dollars in damage. Among the dead and missing were people buried in landslides and washed away by swollen rivers and high waves. People in isolated villages were cut off and stranded by mudslides and had food and water delivered by helicopters. Water was pumped out of a nuclear power plant in Miagi Prefecture. The Japan Meteorological Agency had called for ''the greatest possible vigilance.''

Japan Kyodo reported: “Typhoon Roke landed near Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, at around 2 p.m., bringing strong winds and heavy rain to vast areas of western to northern Japan. As of 3 p.m., it was heading toward the Tohoku region in northern Japan, moving northeast near the city of Kakegawa at a speed of 45 kilometers per hour and packing winds of up to 216 kph.

Around 7,800 people from 3,700 households across the country were instructed to evacuate as of 11 a.m., while 1.21 million people from 512,000 households were urged to evacuate. The typhoon has caused the cancellation of more than 300 domestic flights and the suspension of Tokaido bullet train services between Tokyo and Osaka, and Yamagata Shinkansen services between Shinjo and Fukushima stations in northeastern Japan, according to airlines and East Japan Railway Co.

Commuters were stranded as landslides. Large areas were flooded. Workers piled up sandbags to repair and reinforce river embankments in Nagoya, where the Shonaigawa river and branching Nagatogawa river flooded due to heavy rains Tuesday. Several sections of expressways, including the Hokuriku Expressway were closed. Toyota and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries decided to suspend operations of their plants in Aichi Prefecture to ensure the safety of their employees.

The typhoon also increased water levels at landslide dams that were formed in Nara and Wakayama prefectures after Typhoon No. 12 hit the regions earlier this month. Water began overflowing at some of them, but no really bad damage occurred. The storm also battered areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Some disaster victims had to return to evacuation shelters as their temporary housing units were flooded due to torrential rain. See Tsunami Survivors

The Nagoya municipal government called for the early evacuation of residents in threatened areas. It advised or instructed 1.1 million residents to evacuate on Tuesday, a day before the typhoon hit Nagoya. However, the city does not have facilities to accommodate 1.1 million people. Even though only 4,600 people moved to evacuation shelters this time, the city's decision should not be called an overreaction. Other municipalities should do their best to secure evacuation shelters and guide their residents appropriately to safe places.

Typhoon No. 15 brought more than 1,000 millimeters of rain to parts of the Kyushu and Shikoku regions (including 1,128 millimeters was recorded at Misatocho in Miyazaki Prefecture) .

Typhoon No. 15 Strikes Tokyo

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Primer Minister Noda surveying
damage from early September typhoon
People in the Tokyo metropolitan area felt the full brunt of the typhoon for the first time in many years. On Wednesday afternoon, when the typhoon came closest to Tokyo, the wind registered a maximum velocity of 129.6 kph. Many railways suspended services and major stations were packed with people trying to get home. People formed long lines at bus stops in front of railway stations, while others decided to stay at hotels near their offices or make the long trek home. The situation probably reminded many people of the huge number of commuters who could not get home when the March 11 earthquake disrupted public transportation systems. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, September 24, 2011]

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Heavy rain and blustering wind halted operations on most train lines in Tokyo, throwing terminal stations into a state of total confusion that resembled the chaotic scenes that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake. The wind speed in central Tokyo peaked at 130 kph at about 6 p.m., according to the Meteorological Agency. At Haneda Airport, the wind speed reached 144 kph at 5:54 p.m., the highest on record. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, September 23, 2011]

Shinjuku and other terminal stations were packed with people trying to make their way home. Long lines of commuters formed at a bus terminal in front of JR Shibuya Station. According to JR East's Tokyo branch, nine railway lines, including the Yamanote and Keihin Tohoku lines, were temporarily shut down, affecting about 1.03 million passengers. According to Tokyo Metro Co., the suspension of subway train services affected about 880,000 people. At JR Tokyo Station, all train operations were temporarily suspended, including Shinkansen services. About 430 flights were canceled at Haneda. "I wanted to get back to my home today, but there's little chance I'll be able to. I can't stay at a hotel, because there aren't any vacancies. I don't know what to do," said Shiro Iwai, 74, a company president from Nagoya.

At a taxi rank outside the station, more than 300 people stood in line, but the wait was long--sometimes as long as 20 minutes passed without a vacant taxi arriving. "I've been waiting here for more than two hours to go to a hotel," said Takashi Imai, 42, a company employee from Hiroshima. He was unable to return home because Shinkansen and airline services were suspended.

In Shinjuku, train station platforms became extremely crowded after trains stopped running on the Odakyu Line, Keio Line and JR lines. Staff limited the number of passengers allowed onto the platforms. "On the day of the Great East Japan Earthquake, I waited at Shinjuku Station for the trains to start moving until late at night. I didn't expect this kind of thing to happen again. This has been a terrible year," Motoki Sato, 50, a company employee from Inagi, Tokyo, said.

Strong winds caused many accidents in Tokyo. In the usually busy Dogenzaka district in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, a tree by the roadside was blown over and fell onto a taxi Wednesday evening. "I was waiting for the traffic lights to change and heard a massive crash. I looked over my shoulder and saw a big tree had fallen onto the trunk," said the 42-year-old driver of the taxi. Tetsuro Morimoto, 37, owner of a nearby drugstore, said: "I heard a sudden sound that was like thunder. When I looked [outside], I saw [the tree] had fallen over and was blocking the road."

At about 5:20 p.m., police received a call from a person on the 273-meter-long Tatsumi-Sakurabashi bridge that spans the Tatsumi canal in Koto Ward, Tokyo. "We can't move because the wind is so strong," the caller said. According to the Metropolitan Police Department's Tokyo Wangan Police Station, 10 men and women were stranded on the bridge. About 30 minutes after the call was placed, policemen arrived and helped them cross the bridge safely. Two trucks overturned on the Rainbow Bridge in the Odaiba district of Tokyo at about 6 p.m. due to the strong wind.

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Primer Minister Noda surveying damage from early September typhoon

Typhoons in Japan in 2012

On the typhoon that struck Japan in mid September 2012, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Powerful Typhoon No. 16 passed the main Okinawa Island, bringing winds of over 200 kph and cutting power to about 80,000 households in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures. The island and the Amami region, including the Amami Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture, were enveloped by the storm zone, and part of southern Kyushu fell under the high wind zone, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Rivers overflowed in several cities including Naha and Nago in Okinawa Prefecture in the morning as the typhoon's approach coincided with a high tide, inundating many houses. The extremely strong typhoon moved north without losing strength. [Source: September 17, 2012]

On the typhoon that struck Japan in early October September 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Typhoon No. 17 moved out into the Pacific Ocean from southeast Hokkaido via the Sanriku region early Monday after making its way across the country and causing at least 1 death and dozens of injuries. A 56-year-old man was found dead at a rice paddy in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture. The man was believed to have been swept away by a swollen river. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, October 2, 2012 ]

According to figures compiled by The Yomiuri Shimbun, 23 people in eastern Japan, including 12 in Kanagawa Prefecture, suffered minor or serious injuries due to the typhoon. Injuries, including falls caused by strong winds, were also reported in the Tokai and Kanto-Koshinetsu regions, where the typhoon hit. Airline disruptions occurred, affecting 8,000 passengers. Japan Airlines cancelled 54 flights, including those between Haneda and Chitose airports, while All Nippon Airways cancelled 16 flights, including those between Sendai and Itami airports.

Image Sources: 1) and 4 Typhoon News weblog and NASA 2) Ray Kinnane 3) Earthquake Image Archives M. Yoshimine, Tokyo Metropolitan University; Wiki Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Daily Yomiuri, Times of London, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated January 2013

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