Created for expats living in Japan

Disaster Preparedness: Emergency Bags in Japan

Being ready in case of an emergency evacuation

In the event of an emergency evacuation in Japan due to an earthquake, fire, tsunami, or lifeline interruption, it is essential to have an evacuation bag ready. What goods would you or your family require to survive while you wait to be rescued or for food supplies to arrive if your home becomes uninhabitable? We will give you some general packing tips in this brief tutorial so you can be prepared.

Disaster Preparedness: Stockpiling and Emergency Food in Japan >>


The first item you will need for your kit is a backpack. We recommend one that is not only light but also waterproof and has a lot of pockets to help you manage your gear. Multi compartment bags, like the one illustrated below, are useful for keeping your materials organized. A hiking backpack may be a better option for people with more supplies.

It is suggested that you pack the heavier goods near the backpack's rear (the part closest to you when you are wearing it). This will make carrying the backpack easier and less taxing on your body.


Pack enough clothes for at least one complete change of clothes (socks, underwear, shirt and pants.)



Pack dry food with a long shelf life such as instant ramen, dehydrated food, canned foods, or snacks (that also have a long shelf life). If the aforementioned items prove to be too bulky and difficult to carry, an alternative would be energy bars such as Calorie Mate (easy to find at stores) or possibly Datrex Food Bars (used by the military for survival situations.)

Pack long-lasting dry food like instant noodles, dehydrated food, canned foods, or snacks. If the aforementioned things are too bulky and difficult to transport, energy bars such as Calorie Mate (available in supermarkets) or even Datrex Food Bars could be handy instead.

Please read Disaster Preparedness: Stockpiling and Emergency Food in Japan for more details.



Water is one of the most vital items on this list out of all of the others. In an emergency survival situation, it is frequently stated that locating fresh drinking water comes first. It is advised that you have at least 1 gallon of drinking water per person in your emergency kit. Due to the amount of room required, you may need more than one bag if you are preparing for more than one person.


Foldable water bags can be also very handy

Communication devices

Mobile phones, radios, or other devices for receiving disaster information and establishing emergency communication. Do not forget to have backup batteries and chargers.

Below are mobile batteries that can be charged or used with batteries. 



These chargers below can store electricity from sunlight with a solar panel or from USB power to the unit. Some types can be also used to store energy in the battery itself by hand-cranking. As solar charging takes time, it is recommended that the mobile battery is always charged in advance.

Radios: The left one can be recharged by hand cranking, the middle and right radios can be charged by sunlight. You can also charge mobiles via these radios.



It's possible that you won't need any tools, but it's always better to be prepared. A multitool (Swiss army knife/leatherman), work gloves, a lighter, a roll of duct tape, a rope, hammer, plier, and a flashlight are the bare minimum tools recommended. A whistle is another essential tool that can be used to inform people of your whereabouts or to draw attention to yourself if you are injured and unable to move. 



First Aid kits

A First Aid Kit is as as important as, if not more important than, the rest of the items on this packing list. While buying one of the pre-made kits available online is easier, you can make your own. Band-Aids, disinfectant, over-the-counter drugs (aspirin/ibuprofen, anti-fungal cream, cough medicine), masks, and prescription medicine are all required for the most basic First Aid Kit.



Nature will call, and it is best to be ready when it does. In a tense scenario, having toilet paper, tissues and garbage bags on hand will make your life easier. Purchasing a portable toilet is an alternative to packing a garbage bag. It's a good idea to remove the toilet paper's cardboard center so you can compress it. Another option is to store the toilet paper in a water-resistant container to keep it from getting wet.

If there is no water available, having antibacterial wet tissues and hand sanitizers will make washing hands a little simpler. portable compressed towels do not take up much room if you prepare them ahead of time. If you do need to wash your hair, waterless shampoo is also recommended. Tooth brushes and feminine hygiene products are also good to be prepared.

Portable toilets

A poncho and wet tissues 

Waterless shampoo


Portable towels



Emergency Kits

Disaster prevention bags (emergency kits) are extremely useful as everything you will need in the event of a disaster is compactly pack into one bag. Emergency kits come in a wide range of shapes and sizes (ex, for 1 person, 2 persons, children, female etc.). Please select one(s) that best suits you and your family.

Face Masks

It's also a good idea to keep some masks on hand in case of an emergency. If you have hay fever, you may require a mask to protect yourself from getting sick from others or to help you endure seasons when there is a lot of pollen in the air.

Goods to protect against cold, heat and sleeping bags

Lightweight blankets, a tent, sleeping bags are also good to have. For winter, pocket warmers will be useful to protect you against cold, and cooling towels will protect you from the heat in summer.



Documents and Money

It is strongly advised that you make photocopies of all of your crucial documents (passport, gaijin card, my number, insurance documents, proof of residence.. ect.). These documents should be kept in a ziplock bag or suitable water-resistant container.

During an emergency, you are quite likely to be unable to access your accounts at an ATM or other place. It is also strongly advised that you keep emergency funds on hand. The amount required varies widely depending on the individual, however somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000yen should be enough.

Other things to consider

If you have dogs, bring some food and a couple of toys, as well as a leash.

If you are traveling with children, bring some toys and books to keep them occupied and quiet during a difficult situation.

If you wear glasses, consider bringing an extra pair with you in case of an emergency.

Take a book with you to read to take your mind off your uncomfortable circumstances.

Bring some card games, puzzles, and other forms of entertainment to alleviate boredom during prolonged waiting or evacuation.