Monday, April 18, 2011

Volunteering during Golden Week.

* Note, thanks to Japan Volunteers, AJET, Adventures in Gradland, and others for the links, recommendations and information.

Before making the decision to volunteer in Tohoku during Golden Week, please consider the following points:

1) You may be able to help more from home:

You can help out wherever you are now by making material/monetary donations, doing fundraisers, donating blood or hosting displaced people through CouchSurfing.  Going to the Tohoku region isn’t something to do because you want to be a hero or because of peer pressure, it is a very serious decision.

2) Do not go to Tohoku without support:

Going alone without the support of a recognized organization puts you and disaster victims in danger. Especially if you are untrained/unskilled, you can actually make matters worse.

3) Make sure you’re physically and mentally prepared:

Foreign Volunteers Japan and the volunteer organizations ask you to seriously consider your physical and mental health. There will be things that you may not expect or want to see.  You will be doing heavy, physical labor after a very long journey by bus and communication in your non-native language in such an environment will put extra stress on you.

4) Make sure that you dress appropriately, and bring proper supplies:

 Dress appropriately for the cold, make sure to include removable layers, warm ones and waterproof one. Wear work clothes, including boots and gloves, etc...

5) Make sure that you can afford to pay your own way:
You will be responsible for your own travel, accommodation, food, water and other basic expenses. Peace Boat recommends bringing at least¥20,000 in cash. You will be responsible for the safekeeping of any valuables you bring. You should have proper identification and insurance–some places will not accept you unless you do.

6) No picture-taking.

"Disaster tourism" is highly frowned upon, and can give your group a bad reputation. Please respect the right not to be photographed of the people you work with, and do not get distracted from your volunteer duties with extraneous items.

7) Be prepared to stay in very modest accommodation:

It is likely that you will be camping near your work sites but accommodation may vary by location.

8) Be sure that you can complete all work duties in addition to volunteering.
While Golden Week may be the only time that you'll be able to volunteer, please make sure that your volunteer destination is aware and approving of the time frame that you will be able to volunteer. Some positions require a much longer commitment, and others may already have hit their position capacity during Golden Week.  

9) Be Ready for down time
Be ready to work hard, at least for a while;but be ready to stand around waiting, also. That is part of the deal.

10)Be aware of the risks:

Volunteer accepting organizations will do their best to make the each project safe for everyone, but please know that if anything happens, you are responsible for your own well-being. There is a risk of inhaling toxic materials such as asbestos left over from destroyed housing, risk of tetanus from stepping on nails, risk of injury at the work sites, and so forth. Please be aware of the risks, take suitable precautions, and consider applying for insurance before heading out.

Volunteer opportunities during Golden Week;
 *This list is a work in progress, we are still checking into whether particular places are willing to accept out-of-prefecture volunteers.*

(Scroll down for Volunteer information - or for FB Updates:)
 B1, 3-13-1 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075
 Peace Boat needs volunteers both to help with relief efforts in Ishinomaki City and to raise funds and sort donations in Tokyo. They ask volunteers to attend an orientation seminar at 6pm on Wednesday or Saturday first. Please contact Arata Otake at the above email address for more information. Please provide personal details (Full name, Age, Gender, Address, Telephone number, E-mail, Availability, Language ability) and specify whether you are interested in volunteering in Tokyo or Ishinomaki.

Application forms to register for volunteering around Sendai

They have a base in Minami Sanriku and need volunteers.Send them an email at  or visit them on Facebook.

We are excited to announce that we are ready to accept volunteers on Project Tohoku, Japan! Project Tohoku is All Hands Volunteers’ tsunami response project in Ofunato and Rikuzentakata, Japan. Initially, we will work for two months on debris removal and home rehabilitation in the Sakari area of Ofunato, so that families can return home. This is dirty and physical work and volunteers may be outside for most of the day. As the needs of the community develop and if we are able to effectively fill gaps and complement the government’s efforts, we may expand into other types of work and longer time frames. We will work six days a week with each Tuesday off.
Though a large percentage of our volunteer force will be Japanese nationals, we have limited space for international volunteers. We do not require that our volunteers speak English (or Japanese), but bilingual English/Japanese speakers will be a critical link between our volunteers and the community. In addition to language skills, we are looking for carpenters and builders. People who know how to gut and re-floor houses will be particularly useful.
As with every All Hands project, we strive to create opportunities for those without specific skills and experience who just want to lend a hand. If this sounds like you, please fill out the Project Tohoku inquiry form. Note that space is limited and we unfortunately will not be able to accommodate everyone who applies.

NGO JEN calling for volunteers to support them in their soup kitchen.
The details for the soup kitchen volunteer opportunities, and application forms can be found here: 
NGO JEN is calling for volunteers to help them remove mud and sludge from houses.
The details for sludge removal volunteer opportunities can be found here: 

 Japan Guide Consortium – Group mobilizing volunteer interpreters to assist relief efforts.

The Japan Asian Association and Asian Friendship Societyアジア協会アジア友の会
is looking for Osaka-based volunteers to help with material and monetary donations. please get more information from the site: 

CRASH volunteers: prioritizing our resources and volunteers in a database and will contact you when we are prepared to place you.  (For teams overseas, it will likely be at least April before we are ready to receive you.) 

Sendai shopping volunteers: Have a look at the Otodoketai and see what you can do to help elders in the Sendai area! 

 Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) are looking for volunteers who can provide counselling over the phone.

Japan EQ Animal Rescue and Support
Need people in Tokyo that are at bilingual (Japanese/English).  Or at least an English speaker that is good at Japanese, or visaversa. That said, we need other Tokyo based errands:

Rescue Japan is a non-profit relief effort working to collect and donate supplies for those affected by the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake. Lots of opps helping out!

The Japan Emergency Team asking for information from people who want to help.
Please send your information to
* Include your contact information, when and how you might be able to help. Please also confirm your level of Japanese language skills.
The Japan Emergency Team,
3-3-7 Kokubun-cho Aoba-ku
Sendai, Miyagi-ken 980-8671
*Telephone connection is not regular at this time.



Japanese government website on volunteering.

For comprehensive listings, please visit the AJET Volunteer/Donation Information  Japan Volunteers, or the Adventures in Gradland pages:

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