• Life & Culture

Volunteering in Japan: 5 Work Opportunities for Foreigners

Team of volunteers doing a huddle up

Volunteering in Japan reaches right to the core of the Japanese culture and community spirit. 

You will find a myriad of volunteer opportunities in Japan that offer many different ways to enhance the health and well-being of communities. But is it easy to volunteer in Japan as a foreigner?

Volunteering in Japan as a Foreigner

As a non-Japanese resident, it is likely your contribution to the community, should you wish to make one, will be received by the community with honor. There are ample opportunities for foreigners to get involved with volunteering in Japan, but remember to do your research and talk to people first.


How do I get involved as a volunteer?

If you are interested in volunteering, we recommend talking with people in your local community to find out what is available and, more importantly, where they would benefit from your contribution the most. Although many budding volunteers have the best of intentions, if you do not do your research before you may find that your willingness may not be as gratefully received as intended.

Examples of Volunteer Work in Japan


Since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan in March 2011, there has been an increase in the range of volunteer opportunities available for locals and foreigners.

There are many opportunities to take part in the rebuilding efforts as well as a growing number of opportunities focusing on “kokoro no care,” that is, mental/emotional care to children and the elderly. 

All volunteering in the Tohoku Region should be done through a volunteer organization in Japan.

The Playground of Hope – A Volunteer Program in Japan


To give you an insight into one such not-for-profit volunteer organization in Japan working for the good of the Tohoku region, we have profiled the work of Playground for Hope:

The Playground of Hope is a “social fabric” project that aims to restore playgrounds in disaster-affected Tohoku communities as quickly and efficiently as possible so as to enhance economic recovery by making communities “livable” again for children, their parents, and grandparents. Like a school, hospital, or retirement home, parks are an important part of any healthy community. 

The Playground of Hope is where parents take their children to exercise through play, where elderly can go to enjoy passing time, and where all residents can visit to find hope for the future rebuilding of their community. Click here to learn more about how to volunteer at the Playground of Hope.

Links to other volunteer groups in Japan:


Hands On Tokyo

Ideal for foreigners wanting to volunteer in Japan, Hands On Tokyo provides meaningful bilingual volunteer opportunities. They work with special needs organizations, non-profit organizations, welfare facilities, children’s homes, educational institutions, local hospitals and health care providers.

If you’re working in Tokyo as a foreigner, Hands On Tokyo has a range of events to choose from.

Second Harvest

There are approximately 20 million living below the poverty line in Japan – that is 1 in 6 people.

Japan’s only nationwide food bank, Second Harvest provides food to those in need. They give food that hasn’t been sold but is still fit for human consumption, from shops, companies and retailers. If you’re working in a city in Japan, why not get involved with some practical volunteer work?

As well as continuing to support the Tohoku disaster, they run a variety of kitchens and food banks.

Shine On! Kids

Supporting children with cancer and other serious illnesses, Shine On! Kids support over 23 hospitals in Japan. They use innovative psychosocial support programs, including a big focus on dogs!

Support dogs are amazing for children in hospitals, reducing stress and the perception of pain.

You can help Shine On! Kids through fundraising, organising and hosting an event, or joining the Carry a Bead Program. There are also numerous opportunities to volunteer as a foreigner in Japan – bilingual volunteers are needed for creative workshops, event administration and cold calling.

Run for the Cure

A breast cancer charity, RFTC Japan aim to eradicate the life-threatening disease through education, timely screening and treatment. From fundraising runs, to pampering parties, Run for the Cure is a popular choice for bilingual volunteers in Japan – there’s even a free bilingual quarterly magazine.

If you’re into running, RFTC is a great cause, but there are plenty of non-running events too!

Interested in volunteering in Japan? Get in touch with the Interac team – we can point you in the right direction of volunteer opportunities close to your school and who to contact about volunteering.