I've heard people talking about how folks in Tokyo and other areas close to the disaster zone in Japan are beginning to hoard items such as instant noodles, rice, bottled water and toilet paper. I've even watched videos taken by You Tube video blogger "softypapa" in Shizuoka of the same behavior.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised tonight though when my wife came back from our local supermarket (we actually have 2 small local supermarkets) and told me that all the rice, instant noodles and bottled water were sold out. I decided to go for a walk this evening and check out the state of affairs at the other local market. I was REALLY shocked to find the same thing.
It looks as if some people are beginning to panic buy. Kobe is located more than 800 kilometers from the nuclear disaster area in Fukushima. We are a very safe place. Just this afternoon I found out that the cities of Osaka and Kobe are supplying free housing to refugees from the Fukushima/Miyagi/Iwate regions.
Why are people beginning to hoard here? A few reasons I suppose.
First of all, Japanese people don't tend to shop as many of us, especially more rural living people, in Canada might. Growing up, my family lived quite far from a supermarket. Although we had some small shops in town, we would load up once every weekend and drive from Louisbourg to Sydney, about 40 kilometers away. We would fill the entire trunk of the car with groceries to stock our refrigerator and pantry. People in Japan simply don't shop that way. They don't have pantries. They have so many supermarkets and 24 hour convenience stores that they tend to shop as they need it.
Also when there are rumours that there may be food shortages (not an issue here) they panic. It's that simple. they are buying large amounts of unnecessary items!
Here is a video I discreetly took this evening with my phone at my local Daiei supermarket in Kobe, Japan: