2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake Black Out

地震 Others

We had an earthquake in Japan. This is our experience.

Earthquake experience


In the early morning (3am) on 6th of September 2018.


Hokkaido where is the North island of Japan.

We were in Sapporo city where is the capital in Hokkaido.

The biggest damaged town was Atsuma. They had a landslide.

The moment magnitude scale was 6.6Mw.

  • Deaths 41
  • Injury 691
  • Destroyed House 462
  • Broken House 14,170

What happened

In Sapporo

Shaking a lot! It wakes us up!! But we didn’t get hurt and nothing was broken around us, luckily.

First, we woke up and thought about how to escape from the house, but it only lasted 30 seconds. So we checked some information on internet and went back to the bed again.

Second, the aftershock happened and there was a blackout which lasted for 2 and half days. It made many problems.


Personally, we had a flight booking on the same day to leave from Japan and go to Thailand. And Joe’s (My English boyfriend) tourist visa was expiring on the same day. We had a booking on Airbnb in Thailand.

An unfortunate coincidence.

The black out was the biggest problem

Can you imagine what is working by electricity?

  • Lighting
  • TV, Radio
  • AC
  • Fridge, Freezer
  • Phone charging
  • Wi-Fi
  • Petrol station
  • Credit card terminal (Cash only)
  • ATM (You can’t withdraw)
  • Electricity cooker
  • Some toilets (In Japan, there are many function on toilets including flushing by electricity)
  • Water heating
  • Lights at crossings
  • Public transport

How we managed



We used candles and slept early.

TV, Radio

We have a portable radio with some batteries. We could hear some information by it. The volume wasn’t very loud so we put the cardboard inside of a toilet roll on the speaker, it makes the sound louder.

Radio is only listening, I wish I could have some information by seeing.

In the evening on the same day, a one or two page newspaper was delivered. It confirmed a lot of information.


Luckily, Hokkaido is the North island. We were fine without AC even in the Summer.

If it was in the Winter… OMG!!

Fridge, Freezer

It was a big concern, especially for shops and restaurants.

Some shops gave free ice cream, we got many ice cream and ate 3 per day!

At home, we needed to cook something from the fridge to use stuff ASAP.

Our home uses gas to cook, but my grandma’s house has electricity cooker. They couldn’t even heat water so we shared some cooked rice with them.

Phone charging

People panic about it! Some emergency power was working such as the council buildings. They opened so that people can charge their phone at the office building. So so so many people came and wait for charging.

We have some laptop which is fully charged so we could charge our phones off of their battery.

3G, 4G were working sometimes, but they were so weak. The mobile company Docomo had signal, but other companies didn’t have.

Public phone was free to use for this emergency situation.


No WiFi. I realized how much I’m using internet a day. No internet is almost the same as no information.

Petrol station

Petrol station uses a an electrical pump! We couldn’t refuel. When the station opened, there were massive queue and wait for hours.

It is the queue for a petrol station

Credit card terminal

You might be surprised, some shops were opened for people who need food. We weren’t sure how long we would have a black out. Many people were worried and went to supermarkets, shops and convenience stores.


The credit card terminal is working by electricity, so we couldn’t use the cards. Had to pay by cash.


Then, you want to withdraw right? No No! ATM is working by electricity too!

We couldn’t withdraw cash either. People looked for cash in every pocket and everywhere in the house.

Electricity cooker

Some houses have electricity cooker, such as my grandma’s house . They couldn’t cook.

We know an old lady is living by herself with electricity cooker. We went to the house with some food. But her house got electricity back earlier than our area and she was fine. Also she has many veges at her garden. So she gave us many veges. We’ve tried to help her but she helped us…!

In this situation, people help each other a lot even unknown people.

We saw a notice which says “feel free to charge your phone, we got electricity back!”.


We were impressed. Joe was standing in front of the notice to take picture. The house owner asked him if he wanted to charge.


Japan is the best toilet country in the world. So many function on toilets. Wash your butt, makes some sounds/song, open lid…. And flush!

My parents home has also flush by a button which is working by electricity! It didn’t work!

We brought a bucket of water to the toilet and poured it in. Then it was the same as flushing.

Water heating

Water heating is by gas but the system is working by electricity too. We boiled water at the kitchen and used with cold shower. We took shower in the daytime. It was fine in the Summer, if it was the Winter… NOOOOOO!

Lights on the streets

It was dangerous without lights on the streets. Some police officers were standing at the crossing and gave us sign to go and stop.


We saw some car accidents. Buses didn’t work until the lights on again for safety reason.

Public transports

Included buses, didn’t work at all. The trains run by electricity.

What was scary thing?

Actually we were not sad at all. We were playing Monopoly on a board game. (We have a Japanese edition)

Walked around the town, ride a push bike to my grandma’s house and some places.

Some people had BBQ because of we had to cook food from fridge. Stars were beautiful because of no lights.

Then, what did we worry about?

We were no idea when the electricity would be fixed. How long we needed to live without electricity… Do we have enough food?

Also some wrong information were scary. On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… Someone said “a bigger earthquake would come to Hokkaido again soon.” We couldn’t know which information is right and which is wrong. It was so scary.

Nice people

Some area had electricity back earlier than our area. We went to the area to use Wi-Fi to send a message to Airbnb host because we were supposed to check in two days before.

Then a person came to ask “Do you need help? If you don’t have place to stay, we have a room.”

People care about each other even though they had a hard time too.

Strange things

I don’t understand about BANK.

They arranged for some staff to be in front of the bank. Not only this bank. I saw others too.

I don’t know why.

They wore the uniform and just sitting on a chair… If anyone knows why they did this, let me know.

The black out had been for only 2 and half days, but we felt it was so long…

So our personal problem. FLIGHT and VISA!! Also we had a booking on Airbnb in Thailand.

What happened? > 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake Visa Problem