I went out today (2011/03/12) to re-up supplies and this is what I saw at the local supermarket about 10 minutes from Shinagawa Station. It’s a stark contrast to the supermarket in the station itself which was fully stocked and doing business as usual.
At first I though it was panic buying at its rawest but on closer inspection I realised it was only staples, junk food and/or edible-out-of-the-bag food that had been cherry picked clean off the shelves most probably by stranded commuters hiking home through the inner burbs.
The pasta on the right was barely touched and the shelves to the left of the gap were full from top shelf down with dry goods like flour, beans and so on.
The bread shelf was similarly bare.
And the milk and tofu shelves weren’t far behind.
And most disturbing – all of the water was gone except for the luxury sparkling brands. I guess that sorts out what Japanese consumers really “value” when push comes to shove.
These images are quite chilling in their own way considering that it took less than 12 hours for most of the ready to eat food to fly off the shelves – and in Japan, the worlds largest net importer of agricultural goods, it might become increasingly difficult to restock items to previous levels indefinitely until the ports are up and running.
So with that in mind, if you are in Japan, stock up with at least 3 days of spare water and food, some warm clothes and a First Aid Kit while you still can because the ready to eat food disappeared really, really fast and that was just disgruntled people getting home from work on foot.
There are still tsunami warnings being issued and the apartment is shaking again from yet another aftershock as I type this so one cannot be too cautious at this time.