More information on volunteering in Japan!

More great info from David Slater (who provided this previous list of volunteer opportunities) on how you can get to Japan this summer and help out. See below for details! Posted with permission.

Image from All Hands Volunteers

Welcome to Post-3.11 Japan.

As those on Western calenders finish up your spring semester and heading over to Japan for the summer circuit of research and conferences, you have perfect timing. I know many people who are interested in contributing to the relief effort in some way, but are unsure of how to do it. Things are all set here for you here. See below for some options.

Almost 3 months into it, the relief NPOs, esp. the larger international ones (some listed below), are completely set up to take scads of foreigners, even those who do not speak much Japanese, to come up and help out. This is still a disaster situation, and risk is involved, but they need the help and are set up to use it (something that was not true earlier).

During this period from the end of Golden Week until college students get out of Japanese universities (in July), there is a dire need of volunteers. If you make your living off of Japan, studying, teaching, writing, consulting, etc., about Japan, this is the time to pay back, time to help when Japan really needs help. Even if you don’t, you can still be of service. So, don’t wait until July–come for a week or even a few days right IN JUNE when you first come, when your contribution can make the most difference.

When you get up there, you usually work in small groups (gonin-gumi) going building to building; working together as a team. It is a good way to do it for safety and personal relationships.

Yes, digging mud or cooking for 500 is not easy, and yes, you may imagine it may not be the very best use of your Ph.D. but this is the work that is needed now. So, if you are older than 20 and healthy, then there is usually a wide enough range work for all to find suitable work. AND BILINGUAL INTERPRETERS ARE ESPECIALLY NEEDED.

There are different ways to go:

CHEAP ROUTE: You can take a bus from Tokyo (about 5 hours) right up to the relief site, sometimes it is chartered by the NPO organization itself; you can stay in the sleeping bags on the floor of warehouses, evacuation centers or tents arranged by the NPO (for free); your food you can bring or increasingly, you can buy there.

EASIER ROUTE: You can take the shinkansen to Sendai Station (about 2 hours, 22,000 yen); stay at a business hotel in Sendai (about 8000 yen per night), bus into the Ishinomaki (about 1 hour) or other relief areas; buy a bento and bring it in. And “commute” to work.

GROUP ROUTE: If you are interested in forming a group (30-45), we can set you up with some combination of this plan. Contact me at

Below are three of the larger international NPOs that can accommodate those who do not speak Japanese. For those who are able to stay for a longer time, get to know more what is going on, there are more involved projects usually with smaller NPOs, but for a short stint, these are probably easiest.

Here is a good video I just found on YouTube that gives a pretty good idea of the why and what:

All Hands:

And if you want to volunteer while in Tokyo for a few days, check out Second Harvest Japan, the biggest food bank in Japan: , a really great organization.

See you soon.

David Slater
Sophia U.

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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4 Responses to More information on volunteering in Japan!

  1. Pingback: Volunteer info posted on Japanese news site | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

  2. Pingback: JapanTalk » Blog Archive » Japan Talk #218

  3. Pingback: Announcement: this week’s posts on 3/11 | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

  4. Pingback: Resource: Voices from Tohoku | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

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