Before bonenkai season comes and we head off to different parts of the world to celebrate end-of-the-year holidays, lets take some time for those who may not have as much we do to celebrate. The holidays may make them feel even more left out or marginalised.

Besides the diverse December events below, I would like to highlight 3 events where you can help make other lives a bit brighter:  

Heart Knit Bazaar at Tokyo Union Church: Dec 2–9
Knights in White Lycra SANTA RIDE: Dec 15
Place to Grow Santa Soul Train 2018: Dec 15–16

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in developing this column and a happy healthy winter holiday to you! May 2019 bring more unity to our divided world.

Heart Knit Bazaar

Sunday December 29, 11am7pm
Tokyo Union Church, 5-7-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.
Find out more:

Sarajean Rossitto: Please tell me a little bit about the project.
Tokyo Union Church: Heart Knit Project supported women in temporary housing complexes in Iwate as they tried to get back on their feet after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The women created knitted items from donated yarn from all over the world, with the help of pro bono knitting teachers and patterns. All proceeds have gone directly to the women.
SR: And what is happening now with this project seven years after the disaster?
TUC: The project is finally disbanding at the end of the year as plans are underway for the women to get consignment orders from apparel companies. So this will be the very last donation event in Tokyo.

Knights in White Lycra (KIWL) SANTA RIDE

Saturday December 15: Cycle 70km to a care home, dress as Santa and give presents and Christmas cheer to the excited kids.

Community December 2018 Rob William knights in white lyrca

Sarajean Rossitto: Please tell me a little bit about the Santa Ride.
Robert Williams, KIWL Founder: KIWL members are cycling from Shinjuku to Mitake, near Okutama on Saturday December 15 to visit a local children’s home dressed as Santas to play with the kids and give out presents. It’s organized by Mirai no Mori, a nonprofit working with such marginalised children.
SR: How did you start KIWL?
RW: I started the Knights in White Lycra in 2012 with a few other British friends when we were sat in a pub drinking beer, looking at our huge bellies. We wanted to do something about our own health while also doing some good for others. The tragedy of 3/11 was still fresh in our mind so we trained and rode 270km to Minami-Soma in 2013 to raise funds. The elation of completing the ride and the emotion of meeting the survivors really gave us the motivation to make it an annual event.   
SR: Why do you continue to do it?
RW: There are many reasons why I love running KIWL. The most rewarding is to see the groups for whom we raise funds put it all to good work. I have seen at first hand the positive impact Mirai no Mori camps have on the children who are often emotionally scarred and unable to see positive possibilities. They learn to overcome fear, build self-confidence and learn skills they can take into life beyond institutional care. The other big motivator for me is to see participants transform into someone capable of riding 500km in four days and achieve something they never thought they could possibly do.

Our motto is ‘get fit and give back’. Now we have other events: marathon running, walking, golf, futsal, and social events.

SR: How can other people get involved?
RW: People can donate directly to the group we support, Mirai no Mori, or volunteer with them for their various activities. KIWL always seeks participants for our events too,

Santa Soul Train 2018 

December 1516
Find out more:

Sarajean Rossitto: Please tell me a little bit about the event

Angela Ortiz, Founder: We aim to deliver stockings to 1500 children and have over 500 residents participate in team-building holiday events held in eight towns along the eastern Tohoku coastline. The main event is December 16 (Sun), at Hotel Kanyo in Minami Sanriku. We will be having a smaller scale events which all involve the distribution of stockings to kids.

12/8 in Fukushima
12/15 Christmas Tree lighting in Utatsu in MinamiSanriku
12/15 Cycling Santa Stocking Drop off at Kesennuma Asobiba

We expect this year’s Santa Soul Train will cost over 3 million yen and require 100 volunteers.

SR: What is a Place to Grow?
AO: Place To Grow is a nonprofit that “grows” communities. The signature project, Santa Soul Train, is in its 8th year of bringing Hope, Fun and friendships to marginalized communities. Through the monthly workshops for children in Miyagi and Fukushima, volunteers facilitate collaborations between schools & company volunteers from across japan. These bring together upwards of 500 people and impact hundreds more.
SR: What can people do to help?
AO: 1) Sponsor a holiday stocking for ¥3,000 or join the Santa soul train to support emotional healing in post 3.11 regions. 2) Make a donation to support the Santa Soul Train.

Role and Functions of NGOs, weekend intensive workshop series

Dec 2, 9 and 16. 10am5pm.
Temple University Japan, Continuing Education Program
More information:

A skills-based workshop series focusing on how nonprofit NGOs start, how they develop and the different roles and functions they serve. Participants come out with a more critical understanding of civil society, international development and different approaches including service provision, training programs for empowerment, value and behavior modification, advocacy campaign, social mobilization and economic justice program. Each class will include discussion, presentations and group work activities.

Diversity Dojo: CSR in Action: Case studies and 2020 simulation

December 3. 7pm9pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
Main Meeting Room, Arisu Iki-iki Plaza, 4-6-7 Minami-azabu, Minato-ku.
More information:

After an overview of CSR case studies from leading brands in the apparel industry, the workshop will depict CSR in action. A majority of the workshop will be focused on participants engaging in a simulation activity whereby they will represent diverse actors engaging in CSR plan development. Everyone will leave with new ideas about how corporate social responsibility works, what you can do and make new friends in the process.

Amnesty International Japan (AIJ) Human Rights Day Events  

Community December Amnesty International

Sunday December 9, 3:30pm–6pm/7:30pm–10pm.
What the Dickens, 1-13-3 Ebisunishi, Shibuya-ku.
More information:
Contact: or 03-3518-6777

AITEN Write for Rights (W4R)” letter-writing marathon/Human Rights Day party and concert “Happy 70th Birthday, UDHR!” with live music for dancing! Join the Amnesty International Rock Night and celebrate 70 years of the Universal Human Rights Declaration. AIJ will be putting on an amazing night of entertainment that you surely won’t want to miss! The night will feature live music by Moonshots and Kevin Gray as well as a raffle with absolutely amazing prizes to win.

Suggested donation of ¥1,000 per person at the door. 

Saturday Morning Gender Meet Up #3: Diversity and inclusion

December 15. 9:30am–12pm

Arisu Iki-iki Plaza, 4-6-7 Minami-azabu, Minato-ku.
More information:

Fee: ¥500.
This is the third event in a series of regular gatherings that include presentations and/or workshops with active discussions about particular issues. After some mingling and self introductions, we will have two presentations about current issues in D&I. This will be followed by 30 minutes of discussion and Q&A. In the final 30 minutes, we will discuss possibilities and planning for the Women’s March Global event in Tokyo, planned for January 19.

Sarajean Rossitto

My site:
My Facebook Group: Women of the World March Tokyo (WoW Tokyo)
To have your community events listed next month, please send your event information for next month’s events: