THE news that Typhoon Vongfong was set to hit Japan causing widespread destruction brought back memories of my brush with the brutal forces of nature in that part of the world almost exactly a year ago.

I was in Tokyo with my wife and daughter preparing to go to Disneyland Tokyo. We were to meet a guide from Disney, but before we could he left urgent-sounding messages warning of a typhoon about to hit southern Japan, in what we discovered.

We had only been in Tokyo for two days and we were set to take the train to Hiroshima three days later. He advised us to be ready for a long stay indoors, because when the warnings come here, whole cities go into lockdown.

We found out that was the season for this kind of weather, this typhoon was extraordinarily powerful. Vongfong is set to bring winds of up to 112 miles per hour, while at its peak, Typhoon Francisco blew at 120mph.

Our apartment in the Shibuya district of the city was compact, as many are in this crowded city, but it looked like being our home for the next few days if we weren't to be exposed howling gales and roofs and debris being carried through streets.

So we anxiously watched television, gazing at the maps of a tight vortex of angry clouds racing towards Tokyo. Although concerned for our safety, I knew that if you were going to be exposed to the raw fury of nature, there was no better place for this to happen than in Japan – they know how to handle these things here.

Sirens would wail as typhoon-preparation drills were carried out. Our landlord came round and warned us to close and lock windows properly and move anything indoors that is breakable or that can be caught in a wind gust including plants, pots, and patio furniture. Thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes on islands just off the south-east coast.

We stocked up on food and drink and braced ourselves for what? Well we weren't sure. We hoped it would be just some high winds, a few tiles flying loose, some cables snapping - but we couldn't be sure. We'd seen footage of the violence of storms hitting Japan and hoped dearly that we'd avoid the worst.

So we watched the weather picture unfold. Thousands were evacuated from their homes on Okinawa and coastal islands. We peered anxiously out of the window, comparing gusts and asking eachother if they were getting stronger. But then the weather maps gave better news. Francisco veered away from the mainland and sailed out to sea.

Our emergency supplies weren't needed and we eventually got to Disneyland Tokyo. But it was a salutary lesson on the power of nature - to tear up your plans and put you in peril - or not as it decides.