Disaster Preparedness in Japan

Lest this blog made you think it’s all unicorns and glitter in Hokkaido/Japan, I have to say a few words about a serious topic: disasters. Specifically, earthquakes in Japan.


In September of 2018, a major earthquake hit Hokkaido. The epicenter was located in the Iburi area of the island. This area is made up of small farming towns and lots of mountains. This is the first time in a long time that Hokkaido experienced a major quake of this magnitude. Fortunately, it didn’t hit Sapporo, which is about an hour away from the Iburi sub-prefecture. Though the total number of deaths related to the quake was 41, it was fortunate that a lot more didn’t die.

However, the powerful quake shut down the major power plant that provided electricity for most of the island. For three days and more, Hokkaido shut down. Without electricity, nothing was running. This is the major disaster I’m talking about.

Even before the earthquake happened, I was prepared. Local governments always hold some kind of event or advertising to remind people to be prepared for emergencies. I’ve always taken the disaster-preparedness warnings seriously.

Before the earthquake, we also had the damage from the typhoon to deal with.

I feel like you just have to, especially if you live in Japan. This country has to deal with so many natural disasters that I don’t understand why people were caught unprepared with the earthquake. I heard some people didn’t even have flashlights or extra batteries in their homes to deal with the aftermath.


I am not sure if I can live like that. I don’t know what it is, but my brain has always been wired to plan for emergencies. I’ve come to view preparing for disasters as a way to hedge the general risks of life. It’s as natural as wearing a seatbelt when you’re in the car. After all, nothing in this world is certain, but if you can plan for when things go bad, you don’t panic and know what you need to do.

We had bottles of water stored for emergencies in the house. I always keep a rolling stock of canned goods and packs of instant food in the pantry. I knew exactly where the flashlights and the batteries were. I had even planned for what to do when we lost electricity with my smart phone. I had a charger that relied on battery power instead of electricity. I’ve taken note of where the designated evacuation areas where in our town.

For people living in the northern, colder areas, we are also advised to make sure we have winter coats, gloves, hats, and scarves packed and within easy access if we needed to move quickly. Essentially, you needed a bag that would give you three days worth of emergency supplies.

If you’re a long-term resident of Japan, I think it’s worth it to take the time to get emergency supplies packed or ready just in case something happens. At the very least, know where they are located in your home. I’m lucky that I have an organizing fetish so I always knew where mine were.

News reports when we finally got power back.

If you are a visitor, the best advice I can give is to make sure you have access to information, whether on your smart phone or a person to ask. Hotel staff should be able to guide you if an emergency hits. Either that, or local police and information centers should be just as helpful. If it gets really bad, local people are usually willing to help out.

I don’t think I’m one of those Doomsday Preppers always waiting for the end of the world. But I do like to be prepared in case something bad happens.

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