January 11, 2022
Community and Volunteer Groups in Tokyo
How to get involved with some of Tokyo's most diverse, English-friendly volunteer groups
2022 is here and what better way to start off on the right foot than to pick up a new hobby, join a volunteer group or get more involved in your local community? We’ve rounded up below a list of some of the most diverse and English-friendly community groups in Tokyo. Already part of a group and have an upcoming event? Share it with us at: metropolisjapan.com/submit-an-event/ to get featured.
HANDS ON TOKYO
Hands On Tokyo provides meaningful bilingual volunteer opportunities to foster volunteerism and develop leaders to serve the needs of our community here in the capital. With a range of community partners, including children’s homes, care homes for the elderly and special needs schools, the NPO provides volunteer opportunities for English and Japanese speakers alike. One of its latest projects you can help with is the creation of “Thank You Baskets” for partner hospitals, local hospitals and welfare facilities to support their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Check their website for details on how to join
TOKYO RIVER FRIENDS
Tokyo River Friends was founded in early 2017 by members of the NPO Jambo International to plan regular cleanup events around Tokyo’s river areas. Part of the organization’s wider environmental activities, the river group aims to do more than preserve the natural beauty of the environment. It’s also an opportunity to meet like-minded people, and spend some time relaxing with picnics or barbecues by the riverside or Tokyo Bay waterfronts after the events.
Check their website for details on the next clean up event
SECOND HARVEST JAPAN
“So everyone can eat.” Four simple words anyone can agree on. Since 2002, Second Harvest Japan has been working to make this possible. In 2019, they opened marugohan market as an innovative approach to give people access to food. As users “shop” for what they need, they “pay” through good deeds. This taps into a deep Japanese value, ongaeshi (repaying a kindness). They are expanding their hours, and need volunteers between 4pm – 7pm. Staff are bilingual and Japanese is not a requirement.
Check their website for event updates and email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to join
Swap Stories is a Tokyo-based, globally-minded initiative that aims to bring people together through a collective exchange of clothes and collectibles. The group began organizing clothing swaps in 2020 as an effort to make people in Japan feel a little less isolated by finding home in the kindness of strangers, sharing stories and finding preloved treasures. Its ethos is that sustainability needs to be accessible, shareable and fun to truly become a part of all our lives. Upcoming events include swap markets and mail-based swaps that anyone in Japan can participate in.
Check their website and Instagram @swapstories.jp for upcoming events and news
GRAMA SEVA JAPAN
When Siva Kannan was jogging around Yoyogi Park, a homeless person asked him if he had any money for food — they hadn’t eaten in days. Unfortunately, Kannan hadn’t brought his wallet on his jog, but the event stuck in his mind, sparking the creation of Grama Seva Japan. The volunteer group, named after a Sanskrit-based word meaning “Village Service,” provides hot meals to homeless people and those in need in and around Yoyogi Park, with the kind help of Boudoir Day Spa. All are welcome to join every Sunday from 11am, finishing up before noon.
090-4171-4543 Check website for upcoming events
More than 80% of children in Japan who are abused, neglected or unable to live with their parents or family live in residential-care facilities rather than foster homes. Providing everything from tutoring support to guidance on university/technical school options, YouMeWe have made it their mission to help these children thrive and to prepare them for adulthood, career success and financial independence. Becoming a career mentor, language tutor or IT digital literacy tutor are just some of the ways you can get involved.
Check website for the latest volunteer opportunities
TOKYO SPRING HOMELESS PATROL
Founded in 2016 by five members, Tokyo Spring Homeless Patrol has now grown to over 60 volunteers who patrol and distribute basic daily necessities and food to homeless people around Tokyo. Serving people in need around West Shinjuku on Sunday nights, and Ueno on Wednesday nights, the group also frequently cycles along a stretch of the Kanagawa side of the Tama River to aid some of Tokyo’s most vulnerable. In addition, the group also launched a Yokohama Spring Homeless Patrol on November 6. Volunteers are always welcome to join a patrol to help with anything from food donation to cooking and distribution.
Tokyo group: facebook.com/TSHpatrol
Yokohama group: facebook.com/mutualaidsolidarity/
Check website for details or enquire via email@example.com
PLACE TO GROW
Place to Grow (PTG) was first formed in 2011 to provide emergency aid to communities struck by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In the decade since, its efforts have evolved into providing long-term community support, inspiring the next generation of Tohoku to grow into strong leaders. This year, PTG is carrying on its much-loved Santa Soul Train tradition to connect Tohoku with international communities and other children in Japan. PTG is also organizing an illumination event in Tohoku and a remote Christmas stocking exchange, the second in the NPO’s history.
Follow on facebook, LinkedIn or on Instagram to learn more
THEATRE MANGEKYO (THEATRE PROJECT)
Mangekyo is Japanese for kaleidoscope. Representing a union of complex patterns in a constant flux, the founders chose this word for its group as it represents the diversity of its members perfectly. Currently, the ensemble is working on performance for next year. Inspired in part by Japanese mythology and in part from the lived experiences of the group members, the production’s story is a window into the real lives of people in Japan. Whether you’re interested in performing, set design, translation, social media, playwriting or more, anyone is welcome to join.
Enquire at firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram @theatremangekyo or Facebook Theatre Mangekyo to join
Already part of a group and have an upcoming event? Share it with us at: metropolisjapan.com/submit-an-event/ to get featured