How does this one stack up against Muji’s recent disaster preparedness kit?

The movies have taught us that some catastrophe is always looming for Tokyo. While our Japanese-language correspondent Masanuki Sunakoma isn’t exactly expecting to see Godzilla strolling down the street anytime soon, he is constantly wary of earthquakes, extended power outages, and other potential scrapes. In other words, he always wants to be as prepared as possible.

Which is why, while shopping at Japanese home goods chain Cainz Home Center recently, Masanuki couldn’t resist picking up one of their Higoro Emergency Evacuation Sets for 1,980 yen (US$18). Cainz sells a number of variations on this set, but he selected the “office version” for his purposes. It includes 11 handy items to have in a pinch–the same number as Muji’s comparable “Take Out” set that we featured earlier this month, but that one costs 3,990 yen.

▼ Cainz’s Higoro Emergency Evacuation set


  • Drawstring bag
  • LED light
  • Box cutter knife
  • Work gloves
  • Rope (3 meters [9.8 feet])
  • Whistle
  • Mask
  • Heat-retaining sheet
  • Raincoat
  • Portable toilet
  • Smoke escape hood

Like the Muji set, all of the items are initially gathered in one light-reflective drawstring bag. In terms of the main difference between the two, Masanuki had the feeling that the particular items in the Cainz set would be more useful in the midst of an actual emergency or at a disaster site itself. For example, if he were trapped in rubble somewhere, he could use the whistle to signal for help. Meanwhile, Muji’s has wet wipes, earplugs, and other items that would come in handy once safely settled at an evacuation center.

▼ The drawstring bag has space on the outside to note your evacuation place in the time of an emergency, address, and name.

▼ The work gloves, rope, and whistle came bundled together.

The portable toilet was also a huge plus. In fact, forget a true emergency–even during a recent three-hour power outage he would have been happy to have this!

▼ Portable toilet–no water necessary

Masanuki notes that merely having a reliable kit on hand is not enough. You should also learn how to use everything in it ahead of time so that you don’t panic during a crucial moment. Related to this, he noticed that the LED light requires three AAA batteries, so that was definitely something to take care of right away.

He also took the box cutter and LED light out of their respective packaging to save even a moment’s time when it mattered.

The heat-retaining sheet is a fairly standard disaster prevention item. There was one in the Muji kit as well so he already knew how to wear it like a blanket to prevent losing body heat. He gave the instructions a quick review read-through then put it back in the drawstring bag.

The one item Masanuki wasn’t very familiar with was the smoke escape hood which could be used in the event of a fire or exposure to other dangerous fumes. With an appearance like a plastic bag from the supermarket, you can essentially encase your head in an air-filled bubble. Since he didn’t exactly know how to use it this was a perfect one to test out.

▼ It’s called literally a “smoke shut-out” in Japanese

First, he took the hood out of the bag and unfolded it.

Next, he shook it open, filling it with plenty of air in the process and plopping it over his head. He grasped the edges around his neck to stop any air from entering or exiting and tried crouching while moving. It gave him the distinct feeling of being a goldfish in a bag on the way home from a pet shop.

It’s important to note that a plastic bag from the supermarket is flimsy and isn’t heat resistant, so it could melt on your head in extreme heat and cause even more damage. The hood provided in this emergency set is designed to withstand higher temperatures without such a risk.

Masanuki also reaffirmed that one of the biggest plusses of this set is that all of the items can easily fit into the drawstring bag for easy transportation in a crisis. As a final reminder, he also recommends making sure you know how to use each item and removing any packaging from the items ahead of time.

Hopefully he won’t have a need to use this set anytime soon–or ever–but at least he can breathe a little more easily knowing that he’s got the tools to help him get through a natural disaster or when evacuating from a pickax-wielding yakuza member.

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