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What to Do in Japan When the Electricity in Your Home Cuts Out

What to Do in Japan When the Electricity in Your Home Cuts Out
What to Do in Japan When the Electricity in Your Home Cuts Out

So you’ve moved to Japan, got your apartment set up and your appliances plugged in, and you’re about to sit down for the evening when…poof, lights out! You know it’s probably nothing to worry about, but then your heart starts racing a little. This isn’t your home country, after all. Why did the power cut out? How long will it last? And is there anything you need to do? Remain calm. We’ve got the answers right here.

  • Is your home the only one without power?
  • If so, has your breaker switch been tripped?

The Power is Out! What Should I Do?

So, the lights in your living room have gone out and your television has suddenly switched off. What should you do next?

First, if it is too dark to see well, locate an emergency light source to ensure that you can move safely through your home. Most people in Japan keep an easily-accessible emergency kit including a flashlight or LED lantern at home (which is recommended) but realistically the flashlight function on your phone may be your most readily available option to begin with.

NOTE Some Japanese buildings are equipped with small dim night lights that may still work even if the power is off.

It is possible that the power outage may only be affecting one room or even just one part of that room. Test the light switches around your living room to ascertain whether this is the case. Next, check the other rooms in your home to see if they have power.

If your whole home is without power, take a look out of your windows or open your front door to see if other buildings in your neighborhood have their lights on (this may be made more difficult by the time of day, layout of your neighborhood, and whether you live in urban or rural Japan). If other buildings do seem to be without power, it is possible that your neighborhood is experiencing a power outage.

Quick Checklist - Do These Right Away!

  • Quick Checklist - Do These Right Away!
  • Do the lights turn on anywhere in your home?
  • Are the windows dark in other buildings around you?
  • Are nearby vending machines dark or lit up?

Power outages in a whole neighborhood (or area/city/region) can have many different causes. You can call your power company, but service in English may not be immediately available. Most power outages in Japan are resolved relatively quickly, so you might want to wait a little while before calling.

Here are the phone numbers of the 10 major electric power providers in Japan:

Tokyo Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Kansai Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Chubu Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Tohoku Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Kyushu Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Chugoku Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Shikoku Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Hokkaido Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Hokuriku Electric Power Company  Phone numbers
Okinawa Electric Power Company  Phone numbers

My Whole Neighborhood Has Gone Dark…

A flashlight will be essential (or brighter and longer-lasting LED lamps that are widely available these days) so make sure you keep one in an easily-accessible emergency kit in your home. You will also not be able to use IH stoves or gas stoves for cooking (gas stoves require an electric starter), so it can be a good idea to store backup emergency non-perishable food that does not require cooking.

DANGER! - Candles and other open flames should be avoided or used only with extreme caution in Japan, due to the prevalence of earthquakes and other dangers.
- All electrical appliances (irons, hairdryers, electric drills, mixers, etc.) in use when the power went out should be promptly unplugged. A sudden surge when electric power is restored can be dangerous or cause damage if such appliances are left plugged in.

It is also possible that gas and water may stop during an electrical power outage. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep several bottles of water in your emergency kit and to keep warm blankets and clothing close at hand during the colder months.

After long power outages, you should check whether perishable food in your refrigerator or freezer needs to be thrown away. Note also that timers on electric appliances may have been cleared by the sudden loss of power and will need to be reset.

Power is Only Out in My Home…

If there are lights on in the buildings around you, there is probably no local power outage and the power is likely only out in your home. This is usually because your electric breaker switch has been tripped, which occurs when too many electric appliances are used simultaneously and the contracted electrical capacity is exceeded.

To confirm whether your breaker switch has been tripped, you will need to locate the breaker switch panel in your home, so you may want to contact your landlord, building manager or real estate agent in advance to ask where this is, just in case. This photograph of a typical Japanese breaker switch panel (at right) can assist in finding your breaker switch and using it correctly.

Breaker Japan

Typical Japanese breaker switch panel

Once you do locate the breaker switch panel, unplug all appliances you were using, then open the panel’s cover (if it has one) and flip the breaker to ON (入). If the lights in your house turn on again, then the breaker switch was obviously the reason for the power going out!

This means that you will need to make sure not to use so many electrical appliances simultaneously to avoid tripping the breaker switch again.

If no electricity is available even after the breaker has been flipped to ON (入), your home may be experiencing some sort of malfunction or electricity leakage, in which case you will need to contact your power company. It may be easier to contact your landlord or building manager first to provide assistance, depending on where you live.

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Contact Selectra now to find the optimal plan for you, reducing your electricity by an average of 6%!

▶opening hours and procedures

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Contact Selectra now to find the optimal plan for you, reducing your electricity by an average of 6%!

▶opening hours and procedures

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Our English-speaking advisers will help you compare, subscribe and save on your energy. Just leave your telephone number, we will call you!

reduce your electricity and gas bills

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Our English-speaking advisers will help you compare, subscribe and save on your energy. Just leave your telephone number, we will call you!

What Usually Trips an Electrical Breaker Switch?

Your breaker switch is designed to trip whenever the contracted electrical capacity (amperage, measured in amperes, commonly known as amps/A) is exceeded. This occurs when too many electrical appliances are being used simultaneously.

If your breaker switch is constantly tripping, your contract may not be supplying enough amps (A) for your needs and you should consider increasing the amperage provided by your electricity contract. Most households in Japan have contracts that supply an amperage of 30A, but this can easily be changed by contacting your power company. Please note that you cannot select your contract amperage with Kansai Electric Power Company, Chugoku Electric Power Company, or Okinawa Electric Power Company.

When Will My Breaker Switch Trip?

  • When you use too many electrical appliances simultaneously.
  • When your contract does not supply sufficient amperage.
  • When a breaker (circuit breaker) is activated to prevent excess current.

How Can I Find Out What My Contracted Household Amperage is?

Your electric power company sends a monthly slip to you in the mail that contains your current contracted electricity rate plan as well as your contracted household amperage (A). Please compare this slip with the image below to help you find your contracted household amperage (A), which is circled in red.

Breaker Japan

TEPCO's monthly slip

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Contact Selectra now to find the optimal plan for you, reducing your electricity by an average of 6%!

▶opening hours and procedures

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Contact Selectra now to find the optimal plan for you, reducing your electricity by an average of 6%!

▶opening hours and procedures

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Our English-speaking advisers will help you compare, subscribe and save on your energy. Just leave your telephone number, we will call you!

reduce your electricity and gas bills

Looking for ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills?

Our English-speaking advisers will help you compare, subscribe and save on your energy. Just leave your telephone number, we will call you!

Scheduled Temporary Power Outages

Please note that on rare occasions your electricity may be cut off temporarily due to construction or maintenance work. In such cases, you will be notified in advance, usually with a letter in your mailbox and/or signs around your building (often near the entrance, stairs or elevator). These will be in Japanese, so you may need to ask a Japanese friend or coworker to help you read them.

Unannounced and unscheduled power outages are very uncommon in Japan, but if one occurs in your neighborhood, stay calm and follow the advice in this article until the lights come on again.

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