Thanks Japan! Volunteer associations for foreigners


photo by Jin Horiuchi

It seems to be common for foreign residents to start wanting to have more communications with local Japanese people to know Japanese society after a few years in Japan. Going to lessons or joining in a sport team is a good idea, but doing volunteer work to contribute to the society is another way to make acquaintance with local Japanese people. There are a lot of volunteer organizations in Japan that provide services based on their policies and many of these organizations require foreign national volunteers. But not many people know about what these NPOs do or where to contact even though they are interested in participating in volunteer works. In this column, 4 major volunteer organizations in Japan will be introduced.


United Sports Foundation

In 2011, United Sports Foundation was launched after the Great East Japan Earthquake for the purpose of contributing to society through sports. Their activities include organizing sports camp in order to develop children’s mental and physical health, providing opportunities to have training sessions by professional athletes and organizing seminars. This organization regularly recruits multi-national volunteers who can support their events, such as project leaders to support children in a sports camp. Only qualification to participate is that you must be passionate for sports and dealing with children. Transportation expenses will be reimbursed up to 5000yen. Visit the website of United Sports Foundation for more information. 

United Sports Foundation



Over 40 years long, ASHINAGA has been providing mental and financial supports for children and youths who lost their parents for various reasons such as accident, natural disaster and disease. Their works include organizing scholarship foundation, accommodation support for students who start living on their own, providing mental support for children who lost parents, supporting orphans in foreign countries. ASHINAGA regularly recruits volunteer supporters who are willing to help in their activities. The roles for volunteers include helpers in annual summer camps, care house staff and fund-raising staff. Required skills and contact details vary depending on the role you apply for. Visit their website if you are interested in volunteer works with ASHINAGA. 



mirai no mori

The NPO mirai no mori was established in order to support healthy mental growth of children and youths in children’s orphanage. They plan many activities for youths such as summer and winter camp, outdoor experiences and leadership development programs for high school students. This NPO regularly recruits various multi-national volunteers to help in fund-raising, bi-lingual writing for public information, general administration as well as occasional volunteer staff to support in events that they organize. Required skills and qualifications vary depending on each role. If you are interested in participating their works, send an inquiry. 

mirai no mori


Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV)

Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV) was established by Peace Boat, an NPO which was launched after the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake, in order for disaster recovery assistance after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Since then, this organization has been providing relief operation inside and outside Japan. The main role of PBV is to cooperate with various disaster support organizations to organize support groups of individual volunteers and volunteer groups, and send them to the disaster affected area. They recruit volunteers of any nationality. At the time of disaster, NBV sets up an operation base and engages in many tasks such as cleaning houses, providing daily necessities as well as ad hoc tasks. Their supports are not limited to disaster aids right after the incident. They also commit long-term restoration support after the disaster. If you are willing to give your hand at the time of natural disaster but have no idea where to start, contact PBV for more information.


Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV)


Someone needs your help

There are so many volunteer associations in Japan that engage in so many different tasks including sports instructor for children and disaster support. All of the NPOs introduced in this column recruit volunteer staff on a regular basis. Special skills and qualifications are not required for most of the positions. They provide adequate descriptions and instructions regarding tasks you will engage in so that first-time participants can understand their activities. If you wish to explore more about the Japanese society, working as a volunteer staff can be a good way to acquaint local Japanese people.





あきらことほ Kotoho Akira

Living outside Japan for a good many years, I often rediscover nice little things about this country every time I return here. I would be more than happy if this column may help you find your "nice little things about Japan"!

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