Japan is a land of great things – a rich history and culture, terrific food, a reliable public transportation system and one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Unfortunately, it is also the land of dangerous, and sometimes lethal, natural disasters. These include typhoons, volcanoes, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis. In some parts of Japan, snowstorms and avalanches are also a possibility.
These events are a part of Japanese life, and it’s very important that you are prepared for a worst-case scenario. So how can you make sure that you have everything you need in the case of a large earthquake, for example, that may leave you stranded (call for help)?
First, let’s take a look at possible scenarios.
- No Power Some earthquakes can wipe out not only electricity, but also cell phone reception.
- Being Trapped Either inside your own apartment or hotel, or inside a public place. Doors can wedge shut, and worse, damage caused by an earthquake can knock down debris to block exits.
- Not Being Able to Leave the Building Because of a Typhoon Most of Japan’s weather is harmless, and ‘typhoons’ turn out to be just a lot of rain, but there have been deadly events of this kind in the past, such as Typhoon Vera in 1959, and it could happen again.
In these cases, we need to make sure we are prepared.
What is a Hijou Kitto?
An emergency bag, or Hijou Kitto, can be found in most Japanese households, and even public places such as schools. They are kept in an easily accessible place, and contain items that would help in an emergency situation.
For a basic set, you would need:
- Several litres of bottled water.
- A first aid kit (band-aids, bandages, needles and thread, sanitary gloves, paperclips, scissors, etc.)
- A blanket.
- Food (things that don’t expire easily). Energy bars, canned meat and canned fruit are good examples. Include a can opener.
- A flashlight and spare batteries.
- A portable battery for your phone (reception might be down, but you would still need to check the time, etc.)
These items would tide you over for a few hours or days while you awaited rescue.
Canned bread. Photo by antjeverena on Flickr
There are some Hijou Kitto that go the extra mile. People have been known to be trapped for a lot longer than expected, and for some, peace of mind is key. Here are some extra items you can include in your emergency bag.
- A small, pop-up tent
- Feminine hygiene items
- Extra tools (pliers, a wrench, etc.)
- Duct tape
- Infant supplies such as formula and diapers (if there’s a baby in your household)
- Medication. Painkillers are good, but also any essential medication that you or a family member takes.
- Spare underwear and socks
- Toilet paper
- A pail toilet (called reskyu- toire in Japanese). These things are great – they allow you to dispose of waste mess and hassle-free in case you’re unable to access a proper toilet.
- Rain ponchos
It’s important to assume you’re going to be stuck with nothing for a while. This ensures you have everything you would ever need.
There are also places where you can buy readymade emergency bags. These include “Good Design” by Pro-Bousai and Bousai Guzzu 36 piece set by Bousai Guzzu Defend.
Here are some important things to remember.
- Replace Items Often. Check expiration dates on the food and water, and organise to replace these items often enough to keep them consumable.
- Think About Where You’re Going to Keep Your Emergency Bag. You need it to be easily accessible and for everyone in the family, or building, to know exactly where it is.
- Don’t Be Afraid! An event where you would need to use your emergency bag is very rare. Hopefully you will never have to use it, but if you do, it is best to be as fully prepared as you can be.
Best of luck! Don’t dwell on the possible bad things that can happen. Japan has a lot to enjoy, and you’re in one of the safest countries to enjoy it!