International Training Program on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritages

Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University (R-DMUCH) is designated by UNESCO as the organizer to provide an international training program on disaster risk management of cultural heritages. This program is the first attempt at the international level to provide valuable opportunities for officers, decision makers, academics and representatives of nongovernmental organizations both from heritage professionals and the field of disaster management to visit the cultural heritages and preservation area for landscaping in historic cities or disaster sites in Japan. This year, marking its 11th anniversary of the program, R-DMUCH accepts 15 training participants from 15 countries such as Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mexico and New Zealand.

During a 16-day program, the participants take lectures, do workshops, visit heritage sites and areas affected by natural disasters to assess the risk of and formulate risk management plans for cultural heritages through the fieldwork and case study in Kyoto, Kobe and Sasayama.

Site Visit and Field Work

On September 13, the participants visited Ponto-cho, one of the townscape improvement areas in Kyoto. Their fieldwork was to investigate one specific area in Ponto-cho by following the methodology of disaster imagination game (DIG), such as discovering the firefighting resources, water resources and possible blockages.

Before the fieldwork around the area, the participants approached a restaurant along the Ponto-cho alley from the south side. Professor Okubo (Vice Dean of College of Science and Engineering, Director of R-DMUCH) and Associate Professor Kim (R-DMUCH) provided some explanations of the fire occurred on the night of July 5. As the street was narrow, it was so difficult for the firefighters to access the building of fire occurred and it took four hours to distinguish fire.

Then, the participants walked through the alley, searched that the alley was actually narrow. They identified that the site of Ponto-cho was particularly vulnerable to the fire having wooden buildings, narrow paths, numerous visitors and restaurants, despite the limited evacuation routes. After the fieldwork, each field team made a presentation using maps on which they illustrated the hazards, safe zones and firefighting.

The participants will make final presentations on September 25 at Institute of Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage, Kinugasa Campus.


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