Volunteering in the Tokyo Area

ByMichael Stigall
Sep 27, 2023

Volunteering in the Tokyo Area

When living in a new country, offering your free time to help the local community can be a great thing. One such way is volunteering for a nonprofit organization (NPO). Volunteering has a lot of upsides and a few downsides. It is a great way to meet new people when moving to a new town or when finally getting out and about after living in it for some time, and the people you meet there are generally pretty cool. If you want to volunteer for a good cause, there are options here in Tokyo.

Hands On Tokyo

Hands on copyHands On Tokyo was founded in December 2006 with a working Board of Directors comprising Japanese and foreign nationals committed to making volunteer activities more accessible and accelerating the growth of volunteerism in the Tokyo area. Hands On Tokyo collaborates with many local organizations to encourage senior citizens, revitalize playgrounds, deliver food to the hungry, support people with visual impairment, and inspire children in children’s homes, among other projects.


Second Harvest Japan

HarvestJapan has up to 8 million tons of food loss yearly, while one in six people lives below the poverty line. As the only registered food bank in Japan, since 2002, Second Harvest Japan has been turning ‘mottanai’ (waste) into ‘arigatou’ (thanks) by redistributing food waste from supermarkets such as dented tins and excess inventory.

Their primary focus is poverty and disaster relief through distributing food and essential supplies to welfare agencies, orphanages, shelters, people experiencing homelessness, and others in need. Volunteers generally serve 2.5-hour shifts in one of Second Harvest’s numerous operations, including food pick-up and delivery, food preparation, packaging of food for distribution, food drives, food distribution, and various office activities.


Nature Conservation Society of Japan

NCSJ copyAs an independent and advocacy NGO (non-governmental organization) dedicated to conserving ecosystems and biological diversity, the Nature Conservation Society of Japan has been around for 60 years. Nature conservation through recommendation, campaign, and advocacy is their core aim, which takes the guise of various projects, from field trips to connecting with nature, conservation research, and environmental publications.


Amnesty International

AmnestyThe Tokyo branch of perhaps the world’s most famous NGO has two bilingual factions in Tokyo. AITEN (Amnesty International Tokyo English Network) is the largest and holds a monthly open meeting for education and letter-writing. During the year, they organize a table at several international school festivals, similar events in the Tokyo area, and live music fundraising events. The second group meets monthly for letter-signing of their Action File (India and Vietnam) and anti-death penalty campaign for Vietnam. It also includes writing to Japan’s minister of justice asking for the abolishment of the death penalty in Japan.


Run for the Cure Foundation

Run for the Cure Foundation has been a registered NPO with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government since 2004, aiming to eradicate breast cancer in Japan as a life-threatening disease through education, timely screening, and treatment. Through their activities, the Foundation develops and executes community outreach programs and education initiatives, organizes programs to help increase breast cancer patients’ and survivors’ quality of life, funds mammograms, and donates funds to other organizations.


Animal Walk Tokyo

Helping pets one step at a time, Animal Walk Tokyo was formed in 2010 and is an animal-loving community for like-minded people to come together to help our four-legged friends in Tokyo. AWT started by holding fundraising events for local animal rescue groups. They use their activities to raise awareness among the local community that animals do suffer around us and that everyone can help. 100% of all event proceeds go to donate food, medical supplies, and transportation for rescue groups saving animals in the area. Though they are not currently looking for volunteers, they hold regular events that can be followed on Facebook.

Facebook page


Tokyo Voluntary Action Center

Tokyo Voluntary Action Center (TVAC), founded in 1981, is a nonprofit organization that promotes volunteerism in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. They develop volunteer programs in schools, companies, and communities, cooperating with local volunteer centers and more wide-area organizations. In addition to TVAC, there are 64 local volunteer centers in the Metropolitan Tokyo area, so if you are looking for a specific cause or organization at which you would like to volunteer, TVAC is an excellent place to start.


Tokyo International Players

Founded in 1896, Tokyo International Players (TIP) is a 100% volunteer-run organization and the oldest-running English language theatre company in Japan. Volunteers can participate as actors, but numerous backstage volunteer opportunities exist, including set design, costume construction, props, stage management, lighting, and more.

How to volunteer here: https://www.tokyoplayers.org/

Animal Rescue Kansai (ARK)

ark_kansai_logoARK is a nonprofit, non-governmental, private organization and network of people who love animals, believe in sharing their lives with them, and work actively to rescue them from suffering. ARK has some activities in Tokyo and welcomes volunteers to help walk dogs, socialize cats, etc.


Tungilik, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: http://www.handsontokyo.org/ Screengrab -Modified
Photo: http://2hj.org/english/ Screengrab -Modified
Photo: http://www.nacsj.or.jp/english/index.html Screengrab -Modified
Photo: http://www.amnesty.or.jp/en/get-involved/ Screengrab -Modified
Photo: www.runforthecure.org Screengrab -Modified

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