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The Japan Meteorological Agency has a unique seismic scale called shindo that measures the degree of shaking in the event of an earthquake. This set of numbers, ranging from 0 to 7, is different from an earthquake’s magnitude, which is a numerical value reflecting the size or energy of the temblor at its source.

The shaking and effects become greater as the number increases, with shindo 5 and 6 further divided into lower and upper levels. At maximum 7, people cannot stay standing and may be thrown into the air, while unsecured pieces of furniture are likely to topple over or be tossed up in the air and reinforced concrete walls may collapse.

The June 18 quake that struck the Kansai region had a magnitude of 6.1, while the intensity varied depending on how strong the effects of seismic movement was.

The areas nearest to the epicenter — the cities of Takatsuki, Hirakata, Ibaraki and Minoh and Osaka’s Kita Ward — registered a lower 6, which the agency describes as a level where people find it difficult to remain standing, unsecured furniture will likely fall and wall tiles will sustain damage.

Seismic intensity of upper five — where people find it difficult to move and dishes could fall out from cupboards — was recorded in some other areas of northern Osaka Prefecture and parts of Kyoto Prefecture and lower five — which may cause hanging objects to swing violently — at some locations in Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga, Hyogo and Nara prefectures.

The agency defines level 4 as felt by most people even if they are walking and likely to awake people who are sleeping and cause hanging objects to swing significantly, and 3 as felt by most people who are staying still and likely to make plates in cupboards rattle.

Many people who are not moving around can feel shindo 2 quakes, which will make hanging objects swing slightly, while only some people staying put may feel slight movement in level 1. Zero intensity is detected by seismometers but not perceptible to people.

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