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Foreign Volunteers Japan – Get Involved

Get Involved

Working with On The Road NPO in Ishinomaki

List of Volunteer Opportunities

Below is a list of volunteer opportunities,No information on radiation or economics or donation–just volunteering. We hope it is useful to some.

Also, here are some advice from organizers:

Our first step in relief is still to give money; contribute to local organizations; or even to organize food and supply drives yourself where you are. Much of the work esp. up north is still being done by professionals. Let’s support them.

But many people want to donate time and energy, esp. up north. That is great, too. But if you go, do NOT go on your own. It might be dangerous, but mostly it probably is a poor use of your time and energy. Go through an organization or group already set up. MOST ACCEPT VOLUNTEERS AS THEY NEED THEM, NOT ALL THE TIME. So, don’t just show up; contact them first.

We have tried to find places that foreigners would be able to volunteer at, but of course these are organized to solicit and support Japanese volunteers first. (If you have no Japanese language ability, go with someone else who does; otherwise you will be draining off resources that could be spent other places.)

Remember, there are all sorts of work that needs to be done for all ages and levels of physical strength. But this work is not easy, whether you are cleaning out homes, moving
drift wood, bathing elderly people or cooking 2 meals a day for 500 people. If you are not healthy yourself, get full information on the sort of work expected.

If you go, please keep these in mind:

1. Dress appropriately for the cold.
2. Wear work clothes, including boots and gloves, etc.
3. You should have proper identification and insurance–some places will not accept you unless you do.
4. No picture-taking (no “disaster tourism;” what a term!)
5. For day-work, you are usually expected to supply your own food and water, and toilet paper, etc
6. Be ready to work hard, at least for a while; but be ready to stand around waiting, also. That is part of the deal.
7. Go with others….

It was suggested that you in groups—either groups of friends or better, with some school or work group. This work is stressful and rather shocking esp. if you head up north, and support for the supporters is useful.

Also, it is more likely that people will continue to volunteer again if there is some institutional link, eg., “Smash Tennis Club Relief to Miyagi” or “Hedge Fund Directors’ Collection Agency,” etc. that could organize things where you are and repeat trips to other sites.

Disclaimer: some links might be down or a bit different. And while all of these groups have some at least one recommendation, of course, we cannot guarantee all of the organizations here are working smoothly by the time you read this. Check it out yourself.

Good luck,


Some Volunteer Opportunities for Tohoku

Contents: 1. First stops, 2, General info, 3. Foreign groups, 4. Faith-based groups, 5. Other NPO, 6. Facebook groups, 7. Aggregator sites, 8. Social welfare offices, 9. List of city offices.

(Language of the site noted.)


Good sites that give you guidelines how, and how not, to volunteer.

Please read these first; English and Japanese


Foreign Volunteer Japan

Put up by Sarajean Rossitto, who is all over the NPO scene in Japan!


Similar instructions in Japanese for Tohoku


Disaster Japan: a useful clearing-house of information, including on volunteering

Also has a Facebook group of the same name.


“Japan Guide Consortium Volunteer Interpreters- Earthquake Relief.” Particularly for those with Japanese and English ability


These three are established organizations in Japan set up for foreign volunteers, little or no Japanese is necessary. (For the vast majority of sites listed here, even if part of the homepage is in English, it would be desirable and maybe necessary for you to speak some Japanese.)


Second Harvest is Japan’s largest foodbank, and they are in full-swing, although now they are stressing donations as the most urgent need. Bilingual



Peace Boat is now coordinating teams of volunteers to travel to Ishinomaki City as soon as possible to assist in rebuilding the lives of those affected, and particularly to prepare hot meals. Bilingual

All Hands is a US-based volunteer non-profit already set up in Ofunato, Iwate: English


Church groups appear to have gotten to the scene very quickly and have organized volunteer groups. Most accept volunteers of all faiths and affiliations.


仙台YMCAボランティア支援センター; 東日本大震災支援のため全国YMCAを通して活動するボランティアのコーディネートを行ないます。

YMCA Volunteer Center in Sendai


Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope (CRASH) is a network supporting Christians to do relief work in Japan and around the world, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/crashjapan: English


Caritas Japan is a committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan which cooperates with the activities of the worldwide Catholic Church in the field of relief,
welfare and development.


Lutheran Church Charities; English


宗教者災害救援ネットワーク; Faith-based network for Earthquake Relief in Japan: Japanese

A list of other faith-based groups; not clear how many of them are accepting volunteers: English


Volunteers to bring supplies by motorcycle
全国からバイクボランティアの有志が各被災地入りして、小さな声 を拾い、きちんとした声にして支援体制を再構成したいと考えています.

Homestay for children. Osaka: Japanese; looking for host family for the children made homeless東北地方太平洋沖地震等による被災 児童のホームステイ受入れボランティアの募集

Tokyo Volunteers; looking for interpreter for those who can’t speak Japanese.

日本語がわからなくて困っている外国人を助け るための語学ボランティアを募集しています。


Japan Guide Consortium, looking for interpreters


A group of youth volunteers already up and running, doing good work; English


Earth Day Money: Calling for Host families for Earthquake Evacuees: English

Facebook has been a important source of updated information, but are sometimes hard to find information in their format. Many of the references on this list were culled from different Facebook pages—many thanks to them! Reading them should give you an idea of the range, tenor and needs of different organization as they evolve. The experiences of different volunteers are often shared on these pages.


Tokyo Quake Cleanup, a Facebook group devoted to gathering and circulating information about volunteer work in the Tokyo area.

About the need and opportunities for English translators: English

Japanese FB page for youth volunteers



Set up by OGA International School in Aomori


宗教者災害救援ネットワーク; Faith-based network for Earthquake Relief in Japan: Japanese




A general site that brings earthquake, relief and volunteer information; Japanese



Useful site of up to date volunteer opportunities


Volunteer Support Project for Earthquake Disaster in Eastern Japan


「東日本大震災 災害ボランティア活動に初めて参加される方へ」基礎事項フォーマットを掲載; Japan Civil Network for Disaster Relief in East Japan: Japanese


日本国際飢餓対策機構(Japan International Food for the Hungry: 略してJIFH)は、非営利の民間国際協力団体(NGO)です。


NHK’s portal; points out the importance of volunteers being insured; in Japanese


This appears to be the biggest single volume of volunteers? Due to the huge destruction, in many cases they were not up early, organized or ready to accept volunteers. They seem to be ready now, although not all are accepting volunteers when this list was compiled. But be sure to call first—do not just show up! All in Japanese unless otherwise noted.


全社協 被災地支援・災害ボランティア情報

National Volunteer Information Network



Tokyo Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health: Bilingual in parts



Fukushima Disaster Volunteer Center

Their blog: http://ameblo.jp/pref-f-svc/

いわき市災害救援ボランティアセンターでボランティア募集。いわ き市内在住の方、避難所での支援物資の受け入れ作業です

Iwaki City volunteer center: A volunteer helping out the procedures of receiving supplies.

Minami-souma volunteer center
① 引越手伝い - ひまわりデイサービスセンターを避難 所として開設します。その準備のため、引越しの手伝いをお願いします。
<volunteer to help out moving out>
② 在宅者確認手伝い - 鹿島区在住で在宅の高齢者等の 安否確認をしております。地域の民生委員さんとペアで安否確認で訪問していただきます。
<finding alive elderly – working in pair with the area’s welfare commissioner>



Miyagi Disaster Volunteer Center



Miyagi Social Welfare



Sendai Social Welfare Counsel


Hachinohe Social Welfare


Iwate Counsel of Social Welfare


Disaster Volunteer Center Misawa


Disaster Volunteer Center, Aizu-Wakamatsu

Joso City Center disaster

Disaster Volunteer Center, Mito City


Disaster Volunteer Center Ibaraki


Disaster Volunteer Center Chiba


Disaster Volunteer Center Urayasu


Disaster Volunteer Center, Asahi City


Disaster Volunteer Center Abiko


Kanagawa Volunteer Support Center Citizens

9. List of city groups accepting volunteers (no net access; just telephone numbers)



  1. joshua fraser says:

    I would like to volunteer over the christmas and new year period.

    can i get some help finding a contact person?


  2. ieva sammersa says:

    I would like to volunteer!!to help people of Japan!

  3. Chinmay says:

    Hello Sir,
    Hajimemashite. I wan tot enroll myself in a volunteer organization but not able to understand whether this is the right place ?
    Please help.


  4. SanFranciscoGuy says:

    I’m seriously interested in spending a full year working as an overseas volunteer in Japan.45 yr-old, university graduate, 3 years volunteer experiences in U.S&Europe. High level of interest in Japanese culture. Can start asap.Could anyone able to assit me? Thanks,Lee[San Francisco]

  5. Sho Igawa says:

    Hello, my friend and I are interested in volunteering in the Tohoku region any time between 8/27 and 9/5 for 5 days or so.

    I speak fluent Japanese, so I can translate quickly for my friend if we work with Japanese only. We are both big guys, so can do lots of physical labor.

    Please keep me posted! Thank you.

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  7. My name is Adson Thompson Kiputa i am 24 years old and iam strong and worker guy.i like to be one of the volunteering in your organization.i speak English,Germany and Swahili.i am Tanzanian from Tanzania East Afrika.please except me.

  8. Edward Wickham says:

    Hello, I am 21 years old and have over 5 years construction experiance as well as experiance in almost every field of work with manual labor. I am very interested in volunteering to help in japan’s rebuild, or even just helping in general. thank you.

  9. Stephen Koti says:

    Hello, I am 45 years old and have over 15 years construction experience as well as experience in most branches in Building and construction. I am very interested in volunteering to help in Japan’s rebuild, its divested sites. Contact me if you need good and free help .am available and will be available for a long Period of times as long as you need me

  10. Christopher says:

    Good Morning,

    I am also looking to take a year volunteering in Japan. I am assuming that there are still needs. I am 33, my background is in supply chain and logistics, but I am pretty open to anything. it would be nice to get out and help.

    I have checked many of the links on here, but lots are dead and or not updated regarding needs.

    Please shoot me an email if you can, I would like to get moving and begin around June or July.

    Best Regards,

  11. Dennis Van Dusen says:

    I am nearing retirement so I have ample time to give, and I have great respect for Japan. I wish to assist the people suffering in Japan by working on the reactor cleanup.

    I designed a large computer system for NHK, and would now like to help at Fukushima. I have graduate degrees in Engineering, especially Computer and Electronics knowledge. I speak very little Japanese, but worked at IBM Japan for 6 months for NHK, and designed the system with NHK engineers.

    Please help me connect to a volunteer possibility. I can stay on indefinitely if needed.


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  15. osei bonsu laume kwarteng says:

    i am a Ghanaian and wish to volunteer on the soil of Japan by July,2014.

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  18. Vikrant says:

    I would like to be your volunteer for any area in any capacity

  19. Dear Sir/Madam

    We are writing this mail requesting for partnership with your organization in the field of volunteer exchange for sustainable development activities.

    Volunteer Action for Change Kenya (VAK Jitolee Afrika) is a voluntary service organization. Our aim is to bring people from different cultures to work together towards a common goal. In turn it is hoped this will help break down cultural stereotypes and lead to greater international understanding and peace. We do this by volunteer programme which works on offering services to community projects across Kenya where both local and international volunteers are involved.

    Volunteer Action for Change Kenya (VAK Jitolee Afrika) is a non-profit and non-governmental association that provides voluntary services that is aimed at enhancing the development process and service delivery of community development initiatives. Its main purpose is to promote peace, understanding, justice, development, and information exchange among Kenyans and within the international community.

    We are looking for partners with whom together we can promote the initiatives of community projects at the same time offering volunteers an opportunity to explore and learn more about their surrounding in the meantime being able to develop their skills and knowledge hence enhancing global understanding.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks and kind regards

    Sincerely yours

    Fanuel Ayumba
    Communication Officer

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  30. Samantha says:

    Are people still looking for help? I am living in Japan and would like to participate if I still can.

  31. tsuji says:

    Our family would like to volunteer. Can we volunteer for a day?
    If so, how do we sign up?

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  33. Human meaning they feel other human pain and assist other people.
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    No, it fully lie and cheating.
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    And Japan fully try to kill refugee’s family, including small babies.

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    Watch some torture in the videos our website,


    That family detail and current situation in our website front page.

    Human have heart and feeling
    As a human Hope you and all the mankind urgently helps that family because that family health very, very serious including with small kids.


  34. I am Rajaul from Bangladesh. I am interested to join Japani volunteering organization. I also work with UNHCR online volunteering work. How can i join with you from bangladesh?


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  39. Dennis Fianko Bekoi says:

    I would like to be involved in volunteering field to learn and experience the culture of Japan.


  40. Olaoye Emmanuel says:

    i am a Christian missionary, I will love to render social services as an individual on a regular basis, back home in my country we support and assist in community services . I really want to be part of any group that is into helping the less priviledge , people with health challenge and so on.

    Please kindly contact me soon

  41. Gaurab Nakarmi says:

    I would like to join volunteering groups for children welfare, English tutoring, animal care or other activities around Tochigi region, on weekends and around Christmas-New Year vacation. I am not proficient in Japanese.

    Please contact if anyone has any opportunity.

  42. Myeongsoo Lee says:

    Hi. I would like to join volunteering groups for anything in Tokyo, and i am supposed to stay in Tokyo from February to April.
    If there is someone who is in charge of this and can let me know how I can join, please email me as soon as possible.
    To say it again, I want to volunteer in Tokyo for anything.
    Thank you.

    ps. My email address is 2changsun0126@gmail.com .

  43. Farrukh Ahmmad says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I am Farrukh Ahmmad from Bangladesh.Have been completed Master degree in Social Work from University. I would like to be a volunteer from here.

    I would like to engage myself for for volunteer activities alongside my job.

    Please help & reach me at fashionfair66@gmail.com

    Best Regards

    Farrukh Ahmmad

  44. Destiny says:

    Hi! I would love to help in any way I can, I wanted to know who to get in contact with because I want to start a good/clothing drive in my community here in California. As items are collected, I would like to know where to send everything to get them to volunteers & citizens, alike. My email is destinyjoyromero@yahoo.com thank you!

  45. Nicolas says:

    Am currently at volunteering in the Fukushima prefecture (75km from THE nuclear power plant) and can guarantee that it’s great fun!!!
    We’re mainly doing farming and organising kids camps as well as adult camps (such as students). Volunteers wanted!

    Found the camp via http://www.nice1.gr.jp/en/
    I’ve written an article about my experience there: http://abukma.seesaa.net/article/439497383.html



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