It is necessary for each person to make prompt and accurate judgments to protect themselves during a tsunami. It is important to collect information from accurate sources such as tsunami warnings, but there may be cases when lines of communication are cut and it is not possible to get information. In these circumstances, expect a tsunami if there are strong tremors, or even if there are weak tremors which continue for a long time, and aim to go to a high, safe place.
Make sure that you have several ways to get accurate information such as: Emergency early warning emails ("area mails") to your mobile phone or smartphone, services in which you register to receive disaster information emails, the television and radio. In addition, there are emergency outdoor loudspeakers in place to broadcast sirens and give information such as tsunami alerts, evacuation advisories and orders.
This is a mail sending service by NTT Docomo, KDDI (au) and SoftBank where information is sent directly to all compatible mobile phones and smartphones in an area (to all of Kobe/split by administrative district) at once. Mails are also sent to temporary visitors within the area, such as tourists, with compatible handsets.
The Kobe city centre is set at the base of the mountains to the north, the elevation getting higher the further north you go. The most reliable way to evacuate from a tsunami is to go to a safe place with high elevation. However, if there is not enough time to do so, aim to go to the third floor or above of a sturdy building.
The Kobe city centre can be divided into 3 areas with different characteristics such as the width of roads and building structure.
The Sannomiya area including Center Gai and the Old Foreign Settlement is mainly made up of wide roads and buildings equipped to withstand earthquakes. When evacuating, aim for Center Gai and Flower Road which are not predicted to flood. If you cannot do this, take shelter on the third floor or above of a nearby building.
The Motomachi area including the Motomachi Shopping Street, Nankinmachi (China Town) and Otsunaka Street is made up of a mix of large and small buildings, and is predicted to flood up until near the JR Line. When evacuating, aim to head north of the JR Line, and if there is no time, take shelter on the third floor or above of a nearby building.
The Kobe station area including Harborland is an area made up of many tall buildings equipped to withstand earthquakes, and has a comparatively low level of predicted flooding of around 1 metre depth or less. When evacuating from the Harborland area, make sure not to use underground passageways. You can also take shelter on the third floor or above of a nearby building.
Reference: Disaster prevention living guide (Japanese only)
After evacuating from the predicted flood zone, get information in a safe place. If you are not familiar with the area, you could go to your nearest “evacuation area” (kouiki hinan basho) or “evacuation shelter outdoor space” (hinanjo no yagai kuukan). In most cases, “Evacuation areas” are places such as parks and open spaces, and “evacuation shelters” are local facilities such as schools, community centres and gymnasiums.
The Kobe City Government and Yahoo have signed a “disaster agreement”, and this page is a result of that agreement: it gives information on local facilities such as evacuation shelters.
Smartphone application allowing the user to easily search for evacuation shelters in the vicinity (iPhone not compatible)