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We recently celebrated Instant Ramen Day, marking 56 years since the very first packs of easy-to-cook noodles appeared in Japan. Not every anniversary that comes at this time of year is so lighthearted though. On September 1, 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck the Tokyo area, resulting in the death or disappearance of some 140,000 people.

Out of respect to the fallen and concern for the living, in 1960 the Japanese government designated September 1 as Disaster Preparedness Day, and this year we put together a disaster kit assembled from items you can easily procure at the 100-yen store.

We’ve provided guides to making disaster preparedness kids before, but we realise that the items you may wish to pack in them don’t come cheap. With that in mind, in putting together our survival pack, we visited branches of three large 100-yen chains: Daiso, Can Do, and 100-Yen Lawson.

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Below are our top six picks, some of which are officially designated disaster preparedness items, and others our own outside-the-box recommendations.

6. Sugar cubes (100-Yen Lawson)

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Having a fridge full of food won’t do you much good if an earthquake knocks the power out and everything spoils. While a couple of sugar cubes is hardly the stuff of a balanced diet, your body can quickly and easily convert them to caloric energy. They’re also easy to transport and will keep for ages.

5. Chalk (Daiso)

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If telecommunications service or the electricity supply go down, you’re not going to be able to get in touch with family or loved ones by phone or email. Using chalk means you can turn any flat surface into a message board, leaving instructions about where or how to rendezvous with those you’ve been separated from without having to worry about the risk of tacking up flimsy paper notes.

4. Rescue sheet (Can Do)

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This is a 213 x 137-centimeter (83.9 x 53.9-inch) sheet of thin aluminum. It’s large enough to easily use as a ground covering or to wrap yourself in when you need an insulating blanket, but also folds up compactly enough that it’s easy to carry with you should you need to move to a safer location.

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▼ The cigs are just for size comparison…

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3. Emergency water pouch (Can Do)

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We talked about using sugar cubes as an emergency food substitute above, but even sooner than calories, your body needs water to survive. As part of emergency services, drinking water-dispensing trucks are often dispatched to disaster areas, but you’ll still need a container to store it in, which is where this collapsible five-liter (1.32-gallon) plastic water pouch comes in.

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2. Anti-crime buzzer with light (Daiso)

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These are primarily sold to women and children who are concerned about being attacked on their way to or from home. Their usefulness isn’t limited to scaring off would-be muggers, though, as they’ll also help if you find yourself trapped inside your home (door frames are known to become warped during earthquakes – hence advice to open an exit door during larger tremors) or under collapsed debris, and unable to call loudly enough for help. The piercing sound of the buzzer can help attract the attention of rescue workers, as will shining the light at night.

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1. Long-storage water (100-Yen Lawson)

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Water doesn’t really go bad, but its mineral content means that after a very long length of time, it’s said to become unfit to drink. The water in these two-liter bottles, on the other hand, has had all of its minerals removed, meaning it will remain potable for roughly three years, slowing down the cycle with which you need to restock your disaster preparedness kit.

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These are just our top picks, and a quick check of the inventory at the above stores will turn up even more worthy candidates, such as raincoats and dried foodstuffs. In light of the earthquakes and typhoons that regularly hit Japan, a few bags of things from the 100-yen shop is literally a small price to pay to keep yourself safe in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Photos © RocketNews24
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