Life in Japan

Life In Japan: Preparing For Natural Disasters

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When it comes to life in Japan preparing for natural disasters is something that is always on my mind.
I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, so I should be used to hurricanes. I’ve been living here in Japan for my entire adult life, so I should be used to the unpredictability of earthquakes.
But, no matter how comfortable I feel living here, I can never shake the feeling that, wherever I am, I could be “next.” These recent disasters have re-awakened those fears.
Last night, after the monster went to bed, I scraped my writing plans and checked the contents of my emergency bag.

This silver bag is similar to the one I have in my kindergarten classroom. It’s very typical of Japanese classrooms and offices.

Document Pouch

  • Tokyo Bosai (Disaster Preparedness Tokyo) area map
  • Passport information pages (for baby, husband & me)
  • Family photographs (with names, DOB, address on the back)
  • Driver’s license (mine)
  • Health insurance cards (for baby & me)
  • Dog microchip registration card
  • Dog registration tag number
  • Notebook
  • Pens
  • Stickers & crayons (to entertain my girl)

For Baby

  • 2 pairs of leggings
  • 3 onesies
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 2 bed gowns
  • 1 thick cardigan
  • 2 turtlenecks
  • 1 thermal shirt
  • 1 bar of laundry soap
  • 3 jars of baby food
  • 3 packages of baby food
  • 2 sticks of Pocari Sweat for kids
  • Twistshake leak-proof water bottle
  • 2 picture books
  • Deck of playing cards

My Clothing

  • 1 Heattech set (leggings and long-sleeved shirt)
  • 2 pairs of thick tights
  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Short-sleeved cardigan
  • Fleece jumper


  • First Aid Kit
  • Mini shampoo and conditioner set
  • Hand soap bars
  • Face soap bars
  • Mini packages of tissues
  • 1 set of oral and topical medication for baby
  • 2 tubes of lip balm
  • Sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Tube of toothpaste
  • Disposable toothbrushes

Daily Goods

  • Whistle
  • Reflective bands
  • 2 pairs of slippers
  • Blanket
  • 2 towels
  • Baby wash towel
  • Heating pads
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Battery-powered flashlight and replacement batteries
  • Package of antibacterial wipes
  • 3 packages of powdered laundry detergent
  • LOTS of disposable chopsticks and plastic utensils (whatever I get from the combini I just stash away)

Home Emergency Stockpile

  • Hand-powered flashlight
  • Mini flashlight
  • Portable gas stove
  • 2 full gas cartridges
  • 48 bottles of 500ml water
  • 1 case (six 2L bottles) of water
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper


Our building is “structurally sound” and we live on a high floor. But, you can never be too sure when it comes how destructive an earthquake or tsunami can be.
However, we have a dog, so I’m not sure if our nearest evacuation centers will accept him. Nevertheless, in the event that we have to evacuate, the above is everything I have packed and ready to go.

As you can see, my husband doesn’t have a set of men’s spare clothes in the emergency bag. Despite telling him repeatedly, he still hasn’t bothered to prepare his own. That’s a work in progress. I also need to store some extra cash in the form of 1000 yen bills and 100 yen coins.
I also need to store a package of dog food, a package of diapers and wipes, and a baby carrier. My backpack is pretty full as it is, so I guess I need to store all of that in another backpack. My husband works irregular hours, so if we evacuate and he’s not home, I have to take everything (and everyone!) by myself…
As the Hokkaido earthquake has shown us, even if a home is left perfectly intact, you can still be left without power and water.
We need backup phone batteries or a battery-powered charger. We also need to work on replenishing our food supply with crackers, biscuits, toddler snacks, instant noodles, and canned goods.
Having extra sanitary napkins, diapers, wipes, and dog food on hand will also be a great addition to our home emergency stockpile. Lastly, we need to take a look at the car and prepare an emergency kit there. Right now there’s just stuff for the baby.

Are you in Japan? How do you prepare for natural disasters?

Life In Japan: Preparing For Natural Disasters

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