Preparing for the End of the World

I’m kidding Cute Mom, Cute Dad, Cute MIL and Cute FIL!

{sort of}

One of the things about living in Tokyo is the pretty realistic threat of a major earthquake.  Most of our friends here lived through March 11, 2001 and have been very helpful about sharing information as to how we can try to prepare for another major quake.  Additionally, I attended a really great workshop led by a man who survived the Kobe quake with his wife and young children, and left with some good ideas about what I needed to do in case this should happen to us.

One of the first things I did was to order us a set of two-person emergency backpacks.  They were way more comprehensive than I could ever put together on my own, especially in a new city without a car!

{image from Foreign Buyer’s Club}

Inside each pack are food and water, ponchos, medical supplies, blankets, portable radios, flashlights, toilet paper, Swiss Army knives, work gloves, playing cards and more!

While the packs come with those bricks of sustainable food sources, we also stocked our regular pantry with more canned goods than we usually have, and then added in bottles of water, crackers, granola bars and large tubs of good ol’ peanut butter.  I figured if we’re stranded in our apartment for a week or two {the most likely scenario based on our modern apartment, designed to “rock and roll” with an earthquake}, spoonfuls of high-protein peanut butter are way more appetizing to The Cuties {and me!} than anything else!

In addition to our backpacks, we have an enormous supply of baby wipes.  In case we lose power, everyone in the house knows to immediate fill all the bathtubs so we have water with which to flush toilets.  However, we wouldn’t want to waste that precious commodity for bathing so the wipes are for sponge baths and personal hygiene in such a situation.  This was really not the most upbeat workshop, and required the group of us to all head for a big glass of wine afterward.  But as we experience the smaller earthquakes that happen with *some* frequency here, I’m finding my preparedness to offer a sense of ~ not necessarily calm ~ but rather a lack of complete panic on my part.

However, apparently our willingness to rough it extends to going without bathing for weeks on end, but not quite to everything….did you catch that Ziploc baggie in the outer pocket of one of those backpacks in the photo above?  That’s an extra emergency crank radio we purchased.

We will smell, but we will have electronics, darn it!!!


When we set up the apartment I put some thought into where we put the bigger furniture so that in case it fell over, it never blocked an exit or doorway.  And then I found out that the city ward in which we live will give out free earthquake safety devices to each residents.  Score!  So I asked for translation assistance from our relocation specialist and together, we went to the ward office.  I completed the paperwork {which was a complicated task involving math as each device was worth a certain number of points, and each household could obtain only 50 points worth of items.  Unnecessarily complicated in my opinion, but I did not notice a complaint box!}.  So off went the paperwork with the promise of delivery in 1-2 months.  And in precisely 6 weeks a package arrived.

There’s a lot of fear in those cartoons!

Nothing like opening boxes that need assembling with directions completely in Japanese. Makes me long for the IKEA days.  Fortunately, this was a fairly self-evident, albeit manicure destroying project.  We opted to allot our points to The Cuties’ rooms with the thought that tipped over furniture would bother them much more than us and since they are at the other end of the apartment, we want them to be able to get out of their rooms as easily as possible.

These braces wedge between the top of each Cutie’s tall bookcase and the ceiling to prevent them from tipping over.

If we were back in the States and this were our home instead of a rental, their walls would be painted and I’d simply paint the tension braces the same color to help them blend in.  But as Cute Husband regularly chuckles and reminds me we most definitely are not in the States, and so I will use my lack of height to my advantage here and try to avoid looking up so it doesn’t irritate me {those of you who know me in real life are laughing to yourselves, aren’t you, because you know stuff like this bugs the crud out of me!}.

OK, these don’t bother me as much!

See the tiny plastic wedges at the bottom of the dresser?

So my theory here is that now that I’ve done all of this {and more ~ I don’t need you all to think I need more therapy than you already do!}, no major earthquakes should hit while The Felt So Cutes live in Japan.

Because everything always goes according to plan, right?…….

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5 Responses to Preparing for the End of the World

  1. shelli says:

    Living in Earthquake country , like we do, I think that you were very smart in doing what you do. Perhaps it will give us the impetus to get going and do some real preparing for an eventual earthquake.



  2. dafarmer says:

    Wow! When I lived in Japan we had an emergency kit but never anything so elaborate as that pack. But the apartment I lived in was built on rollers so each time we had a quake even if it was a little one you’d feel it! The idea was the tower would move with the quake so it wouldn’t fall down.

  3. feltsocute says:

    Our building is also on rollers and so the earthquakes we have with regularity in the 4.0s and 5.0s feel fairly mild. However, after March 11, I think there’s a different outlook here with regard to preparation, and the reality of Tokyo’s proximity to that major fault line is being addressed with more seriousness of late.

  4. Laura says:

    You are so wise to prepare. I hope all goes according to plan and you simply pass along all the survival goodies to another family when you return to the States. I am amazed at how tidy your daughters keep their shelves – my girls are years younger than yours and I wonder if they will grow into that skill…
    Synergistic Acres – Kansas City Natural Farm

  5. Christine says:

    I’m surprised with all your craftiness, you didn’t just make sleeves for the bracers or something!

    Good for you for being prepared! I live in the States, and my family’s super into the preparedness thing(between being in the boy scouts and our church always pushing to be ready, I suppose it was inevitable)- we’ve got a ‘year’s supply’ and all sorts of emergency gear all over the place. When the Northridge earthquake hit in 94, the whole neighborhood was thankful for our extensive supplies! Its a blessing to your family and your neighbors.

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