Tips for Tourists: Earthquake Preparedness when Traveling in Japan (Part 2)

WaNavi Japan provides Earthquake Preparedness sessions for travelers with AirBnB as part of their “Social Impact Experiences” in Tokyo. We look forward to welcoming people from around the globe to share the knowledge of personal preparedness and introduce many unique disaster-related products only available in Japan.

To ensure your travel in Japan goes as smoothly as possible, you’ll want to be prepared for any situation–and unfortunately, that includes preparing for the possibility of an earthquake. If you haven’t already, read part 1 on this topic, which tells you how to find essential information to get through an earthquake safely.
In this post we will cover the earthquake aftermath: how to get in touch with loved ones, and how to ensure your physical and emotional well-being in a potentially stressful time until you are able to safely leave Japan.

3. How can I get in touch with friends and family after an earthquake?

Once you have confirmed your own safety, you will want to let your family and friends abroad know that you are safe and well. After a significant earthquake, you don’t know which communication devices will be available, so having multiple means to contact those outside Japan will be important. Depending on availability, several options are as follows:

  • If mobile phones or landlines are working, you can call your main contact in Japan and in your home country.
  • If internet is available, use Facebook Safety Check, Google Person Finder or Web 171 . These sites have English instructions, and you can also practice using them at any time. Practice using them before coming to Japan to make sure you are familiar with the functions and you can tell your friends and family how to check up on you ahead of time.
  • If all communication methods are down except public telephones, call your embassy or other emergency contacts in Japan (travel agency, friends, etc.). Make sure you have the numbers written down on your personalized helpcard [link to helpcard], which you can print out here in passport size.
  • At emergency shelters, you will be able to make free domestic calls but International calls are unavailable in serious disasters. Make sure you have 10 yen and 100 yen coins in order to use the phone.

If you are traveling with others, be sure to have a meet up plan at every stage of the trip in case you are separated.

4. What should I carry with me at all times while traveling in case of an earthquake

In Japan, you are advised to carry essential survival goods where ever you go to help survive the first few hours after an earthquake, since you really don’t know when an earthquake may occur. You need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios like being trapped in elevators or other small spaces alone and having to wait for help for several hours.

Bosai means disaster preparedness in Japanese. Here is our list of portable recommended items for your own “Personal Bosai Kit”:
Must Have Items

  1. LED light (to see in the dark)
  2. Whistle (to signal for help; you may run out of energy if you shout for hours)
  3. Energy bars (for balanced emergency food)
  4. Your daily medications (if required)
  5. Bottle of water

The above are the Must Have items, but we also encourage you to customize according to your needs. Below is a list of Useful Items to consider:

  • Mask (to protect against inhaling hazardous dust)
  • Wet wipes (suitable for hands and face)
  • Cash (especially 10 yen and 100 yen coins)
  • Glasses/contact lenses (contact lenses may hurt in the dust)
  • Portable toilet (Plastic bag with absorbent and deodorant gel in case you are trapped somewhere for a long amount of time)
  • Aluminum blanket (to protect yourself from cold)
  • Hot packs (to protect yourself from cold)
  • Mini first aid kit (bandaids and antiseptic cream)
  • Sanitary napkins or other hygiene products
  • Mini-radio (To collect accurate information)
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Customized Helpcard [link]

Comfort Items:

  • Toys (for comfort if you are traveling with children)
  • Gum (to relieve stress and keeping oral hygiene)

In response to many requests, we have created WaNavi Japan’s original Personal Bosai Kit for ¥2000. To purchase please contact us at

Knowing ahead of time will make your travels safe and stress-free, even in the event of a disaster in an unfamiliar country. As the old Japanese saying goes: Sonae-Areba-Urei-Nashi 備えあれば憂いなし – If you are prepared, you can let go of fear.

Be prepared and fully enjoy discovering Japan!
Travel Preparedness Helpcard

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