It’s no secret that there are a lot of earthquakes in Japan. The island nation is located where tectonic plates come together, and this results in the shaking we know as earthquakes. Most of the time, they’re small earthquakes, so subtle you may even think you’re just imagining it (but the swaying curtains or hung clothes assure you you’re not). Let’s have a look at safety, what to do in an earthquake and emergency kit in Japan for earthquakes.

But, Japan also has a history of intense earthquakes, the most recent in most people’s memory being the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that also caused a tsunami and a subsequent nuclear meltdown—a triple disaster. The area was completely destroyed and 29,000 people were found dead (LiveScience, 2011). The nuclear radiation still affects people in those regions today, evident from the increase in cancer patients. It’s no exaggeration to say that Japan is still recovering from this tragedy. 

Locals remark that Japan is due for another big earthquake soon. As someone who isn’t used to earthquakes, I think that’s terrifying. I mean, the world will literally be shaking under your feet. It’s something to take seriously and you need to be prepared.

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What to Do In An Earthquake

When a larger earthquake occurs, a loud alarm goes off on your phone. When I say loud, I mean loud. A recording in Japanese will go off, telling you an earthquake is about to hit and to prepare for it. It’ll usually go off seconds before the real thing, and these seconds are crucial to your survival during a large-scale earthquake.

Immediately get away from any windows, as the glass is prone to shattering. Open the door, in case it gets damaged while closed and you’re unable to open it again. Lastly, get under a table so you won’t get hit by any falling items. A desk, or even a blanket in a worst case scenario, can shield you from debris. 

Don’t come out from under your safe spot until the shaking is well and over. 



Download the Disaster Preparedness Tokyo App for alerts. It notifies you when an earthquake has hit, where it hit, and its magnitude. It will even show you the closest evacuation center, based on your GPS location, which is very helpful in emergencies. The app is in English, so don’t worry about a language barrier. 

If you’re proficient in Japanese, then follow the Twitter account Jishin Jouhou (地震速報, Earthquake Information). It tweets immediately when an earthquake has hit. 

Emergency Kit for Earthquakes

In worst case scenarios, the power will go out and water will stop running. To prepare for this, you should always have a safety emergency kit in Japan! Making one isn’t very expensive and it doesn’t take up much space in your home. 

Emergency kits in Japan may vary person to person, depending on a person’s health needs, diet restrictions, and other factors, but here are the basics. 

Non-perishable food

Get canned food instead of perishables like vegetables and bread. You can get canned tuna, spam, beans, and even soup. Try to get the ones that don’t require a can-opener. 


Get a few 1.5ml bottles of water. If you have a bath tub, clean it well and then fill it up with water after an earthquake has hit. If water really does stop running, you can use that water to wipe yourself clean in place of showers. 

Tissues/Toilet Paper

As we’ve learned from this pandemic, toilet paper will be one of the first few things to go in a crisis, so be sure to have a few rolls at home so you don’t have to run to the drugstore for more. 

Important Documents/Items

Your passport, residence card, insurance card, hanko stamp, keys and other documents that would be difficult to replace.


If the power goes out, having a flashlight will make your life so much easier, and there are thousands of pocket-sized ones that you can find.


Many websites recommend having a safety helmet ready in the case of an earthquake in Japan. This will help more during the actual event. It will protect your head from any debris.

These are just some of the basics, and getting them all will make you feel much safer and prepared.


You’re bound to experience an earthquake if you’re in Japan long enough. As of this edit, small earthquakes are occurring more frequently in the past few weeks, sometimes with more than one in a week. Just remain calm and follow whatever instructions the Japanese government/your embassy gives you. 

Do you have stories of when you felt an earthquake? Do you have any other tips on how to stay safe when one hits?

Stay tuned for more information about Japan travel, Japanese culture, moving to Japan, living in Japan, Japanese language and more. 

Find out more about Japan travel here: Shopping in Japan, the best souvenirs to buy in Japan, nature in Japan, camping in Japan, overnight & day trips from Tokyo, Top museums to visit in Tokyo, Local neighbourhoods in Tokyo and beaches near Tokyo.