>Join Foreign Volunteers Japan on Facebook


If you haven’t yet joined Foreign Volunteers Japan on Facebook and would like to help out with our efforts providing; food, and daily goods to the disaster areas, here’s the link;

 Foreign Volunteers Japan Facebook Group 
This group is created to gather willing foreigners, who wish to do volunteer work at an appropriate time and when required in the wake of the disaster. At this present time, whilst many of you would like to get started now, it is preferable to let the experts do their work unhindered and assess what needs to be done. In the meantime, stay safe. If and when required, we will share information regarding volunteer activities.

>Foreign Volunteers Japan Delivery Missions

>Since I’ve had the chance to join in on two delivery missions with the group, and one with Beau Retallick’s group, I thought I should take this chance to elaborate on what exactly these missions entail.
2011-03-27 FVJ - Ishinomaki Local Conditions 183

Currently, there are shortages of gasoline and rental trucks across Japan. As you could imagine, this creates one of the largest logistical challenges for anyone organizing deliveries up to Tohoku. For our first two trips, we were able to secure a special “Emergency Relief Vehicle” permit for our trucks from local police departments. That allowed us access to the still-closed Tohoku expressway, and emergency vehicles are allowed to cut into gasoline lines at local stations.

FVJ - Ishinomaki
(Be considerate though – each station has a daily quota, and if a 10-truck caravan fills up after cutting in line, the locals who have been waiting patiently at the end of a three-hour line, will end up being turned away without being able to fill-up after the daily quota is maxed out.)

The next challenge is find food and supplies. Thanks to generous donors, collection centers across Tokyo have been filling up quickly. Currently, there are three major collection points. Second Harvest, Tokyo IS Support Center, and Peace Boat. Please see the list of places to send material aid donations for details.

A few people have asked why our collection center at IKON Pubs has put a pause on collecting donations. There are two reasons for this. The first one is that Foreign Volunteers Japan is now putting more effort into matching up delivery runs with local needs and requests from individual refugee centers across Tohoku. The second one is that Foreign Volunteers Japan is now focusing on securing large-scale bulk supplies for the affected areas.

FVJ - Ishinomaki

We’ve found that randomly sending up shipments often causes more harm than it helps. The sheer devastation of the tsunami has destroyed a large percentage of the habitable buildings in several towns, so the refugee shelters have been established in schools, town halls, auditoriums, company buildings, community centers, etc…

This means that refugees themselves are now occupying buildings that may have once been able to provide storage facilities for each community. When we send up supplies that are not immediately needed by the community we deliver them to, they do not have the ability to store those items until a need arises. So many of the smaller aid groups have actually had to return to Tokyo or Nagoya with trucks only half-unloaded.

Supplies that have been rejected have included rice (no way to cook it), clothes (not seasonally appropriate, or not in the right sizes), random boxes of donations (too difficult to sort), other supplies that they had recently received in bulk, and even items that were received in small numbers (since it is important to distribute donations evenly among the refugees in each shelter.)

Currently, various aid groups have begun working together to better coordinate the needs in each area. Damian Penston of Refugees Japan has been helping NUC (Nihon Univa Counter Crisis Team) convert their database of local refugee needs into a Google Document for keeping the various supply teams up-to-date with the latest needs of each community. As Foreign Volunteers Japan heads into the affected areas, we also interview each center on how their needs have changed, and relay that information back to Damian, who in turn helps convey it back to NUC.

In order to secure large-scale bulk supplies, we have been negotiating with industrial-scale wholesalers, and even supply chain providers for hotels and hospitals. Of course we only order items that will fill an immediate need for the refugees up north, such as bottled water, sanitary products, canned foods, specific clothing items, cleaning supplies, etc.


Once an order is negotiated, we can channel donations towards covering the costs involved. For our second trip, we were able to secure an order of 7000 half-liter bottles from a large wholesaler, and courteously Kevin Yu of Tesla motors offered to sponsor the bill for the water.

Following the tsunami, the focus of relief efforts has moved from 1) search and rescue operations, to 2) meeting the immediate needs of hundreds-of-thousands of refugees resettled into emergency shelters.

Now is the time to focus on stage 3) meeting the long-term needs of those refugees. Only once that is taken care of, will it be possible to begin the long and arduous process of 4) rebuilding the devastated towns along the coastline.

Foreign Volunteers Japan is committed to aiding and contributing to the relief efforts focused on the recovery of the tsunami affected areas of Tohoku. Thank you sincerely for your support and involvement.

To participate in the discussion, offer logistics support, loan us a truck, join in as a driver, help sort goods, help run this web-site, write blogs about volunteer efforts, etc…   Please consider joining the Foreign Volunteers Japan group on Facebook. 

2011-03-27 FVJ - Ishinomaki Local Conditions 232

>Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities


Second Harvest
http://www.2hj.org/index.php/get_involved/donate_time (Info about regular volunteer activities)

Mizuta Building 4-5-1 Asakusabashi, Taito, Tokyo
Contact: volunteer@2hj.org

Second Harvest is sending trucks with food and material aid to evacuation centers in Tohoku. They need volunteers to collect, sort and load donated items. They also need drivers. Please contact them at the above email address for more information.

Peace Boat

B1, 3-13-1 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075
Contact: arataotake@peaceboat.gr.jp

Peace Boat needs volunteers both to help with relief efforts in Ishinomaki City and to raise funds and sort donations in Tokyo. They ask volunteers to attend an orientation seminar first. Please contact Arata Otake at the above email address for more information. Please provide personal details (Full name, Age, Gender, Address, Telephone number, E-mail, Availability, Language ability) and specify whether you are interested in volunteering in Tokyo or Ishinomaki.

Volunteer Opportunities with NGO JEN 

NGO JEN is looking for volunteers for its soup kitchen and sludge removal projects. 

Soup Kitchen Volunteers: 

JEN dispatched its first team to Miyagi prefecture immediately after the earthquake, and conducted damage and needs assessment and assessment of transportation and procurement routes. Along with these assessments, JEN distributed emergency supplies of clothing, hygiene kits and food for soup kitchens. They also provided hot meals for 600 people in evacuation centers with the cooperation of earthquake/tsunami victims. They have decided to organize soup kitchen in Ishinomaki to provide hot meals for those who have difficulties securing food.

Now they are calling for volunteers to support them in their soup kitchen.
The details for the soup kitchen volunteer opportunities, and application forms can be found here: 

Sludge Removal Volunteers
Sludge, brought by the tsunami, is now emitting disturbing odor around communities. It has been more than three weeks since the incident, and the sludge is drying up and hardening. Gradually this sludge will turn into dust. The dust will be blown up into the air which can have perverse effects to our health. The tsunami brought heavy mud and sludge inside houses. Tatami mats and furniture have absorbed water (one tatami can weigh up to 100kg), thus women and elderly cannot even clean up their houses. Most of the people staying at their homes live on the second floor because the ground floor is covered with mud and sludge. There are also evacuees who could return home once mud and sludge is cleared.

JEN is now procuring equipment and preparing to receive volunteers while coordinating with other organizations. They are now calling for volunteers to help them remove mud and sludge from houses.
The details for sludge removal volunteer opportunities can be found here: 

EARTH DAY MONEY: Calling for Host families for Earthquake Evacuees
Please offer your “home” to ease hardships of the earthquake evacuees.http://www.earthdaymoney.org/topics_dt.php?id=391

Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) are looking for volunteers who can provide counselling over the phone.

For more volunteer opportunities, 
please follow the Japan Volunteers Blog:

>Evacuees moved from Saitama Super Arena

>We published a post a few days ago about items required at the Saitama Super Arena. As you probably already know, the evacuees have been moved to a school in Kazo, Saitama. If we get more information about what relief items they need and how to send it to them, we will make an update. Please don’t send any items to the Super Arena.

>Tokyo Metropolitan Government Stops Taking Donations

>On March 21st, we wrote that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government was accepting personal donations of material aid. It seems that they stopped accepting donations at 4 pm on March 27th. They have received more donations than they can store or deliver at the moment. They are hoping to start accepting material donations again in the future.

I have removed them from our list of places to send material aid donations.

>Volunteer Opportunity in Sendai Area

>Hope International, www.hope.or.jp is an NGO founded in 1975. Like many organizations, it is making a difference in the quake and tsunami struck areas of North-East Japan.

Hope International has an immediate need for volunteers to help with dispersing goods from the Sendai area. They need volunteers starting from this Wednesday, March 30th, for a minimum duration of 3 days to maximum 1 week, to help with dispersing goods that are being shipped to the area. Volunteers should have the following qualifications:
– Bilingual (English and Japanese)
– Have held a co-ordination or logistics role in the past
– Hold a Japanese driver’s license
– Are team players and can work under pressure
If you are available and would like to volunteer, please send your resume, timeframe during which you could be available, and a letter stating why you would like to volunteer to hopeinjapan@gmail.com

In the coming months, cleanup crews will also be needed to help remove rubbish and rubble from the tsunami and quake stricken area. If you would like to help in this capacity, non-Japanese speakers welcome, please send an email to hopeinjapan@gmail.com with Cleanup Crew in the Subject line.

Thank you in advance to all volunteers, now and in the future, that are helping to relieve and rebuild the country we live in!

>Items Needed at Saitama Super Arena


Lino Harada, a member of Foreign Volunteers Japan, was at the Saitama Super Arena today doing some translation work. She snapped these pictures of posters requesting items. The items needed are:

Instant soup, backpacks, bags, face lotion, paper cups, boxes of tissues, Tiger Balm/medicated compresses (“shippu”), instant congee, intant noodles, coffee, duct tape, canned drinks, belts for men, UNUSED sweat pants, jeans for men, thermoses, heat packs, snacks, soap, toothbrushes, batteries, NEW underwear, tupperware, adult shoes, markers, eco bags, fabreeze, cleaning supplies, sewing kits

As mentioned in the post below, before you rush out and send these items to a donation center, please make sure they are accepting them. For example, not all donation centers are accepting clothing at the moment. Of course, if you live in Saitama and can deliver some of these items directly to the Super Arena, the folks there would be sure to get them.

>Recap: Donating Material Aid in Tokyo

>Some places in Tokyo accepting material donations:

Second Harvest Japan

Second Harvest Japan Disaster Relief Food Drive
Mizuta bldg 1F Asakusabashi 4-5-1, Taito-ku, Tokyo


Phone: 03-3838-3827

Site: http://www.2hj.org/index.php/news/send_us_food_and_supplies/ (English)

http://www.2hj.org/index.php/news_j/disasterrelieffooddonations/ (Japanese)

Tokyo International School

TIS Disaster Relief Supplies 3-4-22 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0073


Phone: 090 6569-7038

Site: http://www.support.tokyois.com/a-way-you-can-act-now/ (English)

http://www.support.tokyois.com/今、みんなでできる事/ (Japanese)

Peace Boat

Peace Boat Center Tokyo

B1, 3-13-1 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0075, Japan


Phone: 03-3362-6307

Site: http://www.peaceboat.org/english/index.php?page=view&nr=19&type=22&menu=62 (English)

http://www.peaceboat.org/info/news/2011/110321.html (Japanese)


  • Before sending donations to any of the above, please read the information on the corresponding web site. All the donation centers have their own restrictions about what they will and won’t accept. They also have requirements for how to package items.
  • In general, remember that if you put only one category of items (Baby care goods, Health care goods, Food, etc.) into a box and label it with the exact contents, it saves the volunteers at the center a lot of work sorting and repackaging donations.
  • If possible, please label the contents in Japanese. Even though there are foreign volunteers at some of the centers listed, if the box has been properly packed it may be sent as is to the evacuation centers. It will make life easier for Japanese volunteers in Tohoku if they don’t need to open the box to find out what it is.
  • No matter how good your intentions, or what you have heard is needed at evacuation centers, please do not donate any items which are not listed as acceptable. The centers will have to sort these items out and likely just end up disposing of them.
  • I have listed telephone numbers for some of the donation centers, but please do not call them unless it is a real emergency. They need their phone lines open for other communications.

>FVJ Interviews Beau Retallick


Beau Retallick, an independent relief worker, recently returned from the disaster zone in Tohoku. He shares very valuable information about the situation on the ground there.

While Foreign Volunteers Japan has been working hard to get supplies up to the tsunami-affected areas, there are many other groups, both small and large, and some courageous individuals as well who spearheaded relief efforts with their own DIY solution.

Part 1:

Soon after realizing the extent of the tsunami damage, Beau Retallick decided to get a couple of vans, load them up with nonperishable food, water, medicine and whatever they could collect, and drive up north to distribute amongst some of the harder-hit smaller towns.

Because they were one of the first groups to head up, shortly after the first Fukushima Reactor explosion, they decided to bring some potassium iodine pills and a Geiger counter along for the ride.

This interview describes some surprising details about what their team encountered on their way, the challenges that they faced, and outlines some of the most important supplies and foods needed for both the distribution centers and for the isolated communities in difficult to reach areas along the coastline.

Part 2:

>Fundraising Concert for Tsunami Relief

>Thank you so much to all those that gave their time to attend our concert meeting and those that wanted to come but couldn’t make it. – Absolutely great feedback from the meeting – We now have – Security, PR, comms, Artist liaisons, big name sponsors, press, digital media, Graphic design, video & motion graphics, merchandizing, artists and a whole lot more pledged for free! – a couple of possible venues as well! Please follow up on your commitments and pledges and enjoy the ride! its going to be hard work, great fun and most importantly give back to the people of this great country that we choose to call home.

Part two after the break: