>On the way to Ishinomaki!


Okay! We made it up safely, and we distributed 7000 bottles of water, dozens of boxes of diapers, healthy snack foods, and an assortment of donations to a distribution venue hosted by PeaceBoat up in Ishinomaki. This time, the water will be distributed to the earthquake and tsunami survivors trapped in mountain towns who cannot get out due to destroyed infrastructure and possibly even emotional trauma. 

     Today we heard that it is difficult to get supplies to those people, because in Japan the law apparently forbids air drops of supplies by helicopters!!(;゜0゜)
 However, Peace Boat and Red Cross Japan have been brainstorming several methods to get the water out to these people. They’ve already helped out countless thousands of people, and will continue doing so far a while. 

One of our goals from here is to build a closer relationship with communities on the ground, and we’ve made a few contacts in Ishinomaki city in Miyagi. It was terribly, terribly hit by the disaster. I will post more on that tomorrow. Today the crew drove 1100 kilometers on 3.5 hours sleep each the night before, so our reports and photo editing will be done tomorrow. 

Thanks again for all of your support and assistance! It’s very much appreciated, and is beginning to help those in the most devastated areas in Japan. Thank you!!! 

>Tokyo Metropolitan Government accepts donations


Tokyo Metropolitan Government accepts donations for those who affected by the quake/ tsunami in Tohoku from citizens live in Tokyo. Please note they limit variety of goods they accept as is seen below.

1. Baby Care Goods
cooling gel patches, paper diapers (any size), baby wipes, baby lotion, baby powder, baby oil, baby food, baby formula, feeding bottles

2. Elderly Care Goods
paper diapers, care wipes, food thickeners

3. Health Care Goods
contact lens solution, contact lens cases, disposable heat packs, sanitary napkins, paper cups, paper plates, WARIBASHI, cling wraps

4. Drinking Water
bottled water, bottled tea (soda is not accepted)

* All products must be new and packed in bags/ boxes.
* Tokyo Metropolitan Office does not accept clothes and food (except for baby food and baby formula) at this time.
* Individual donation should be packed in cartons and delivered (by postal service, KURONEKO or other methods) to 
Tohoku-chiho Taiheiyo-oki Jisin Kyusai Busshi Reception Counter, 
2nd Building, 1F, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, 2-8-1, 
Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 
(〒163-8001 新宿区西新宿2-8-1
* An instruction, 東京都救援物資在中 should be written on each carton 
(or “Tokyo Rescue” may be fine…, I guess).
* Individuals can walk in to the office above to drop donations. However, professional delivery is most recommended.
* Tokyo Metropolitan Government Tohoku Rescue Office: 03-5320-4585, 9am-6pm

This is great for smaller packages and parcels – if everyone can send there personal donations to the government office this will free us up to concentrate on bulk supplies and the next stages of our plan – This will include setting up a soup kitchen to provide hot food to an affected community and to plan the concert – we are welcoming ideas of where to send the concert proceeds and will discuss that at our meeting on Wednesday. A few ideas floating around would be to adopt a community hospital, school or community centre and help to rebuild with the money we raise.


>First Shipment Successful


DSC_0074 by Foreign Volunteers Japan
DSC_0074 a photo by Foreign Volunteers Japan on Flickr.

Hi All,

The first shipment of canned beans, pineapple juice, diapers, sanitary items, and many other daily essentials was a success.

The team managed to prepare enough gasoline for a round trip (thanks for jerry cans!), secure the essential permits and documents for entering the restricted area, communicate smoothly with local governments in the area of need, and take several photos of the process!

As you might imagine, the whole team was really exhausted after making it back into Tokyo. I’m uploading this initial photo without knowing all of the details of their trip, but assure you that the team members (Thank you Steven, Dan, Trevor and crew!) will be updating you on their efforts, and their impressions sometime tomorrow!

I want to send a big thank you out to Ikon-Europubs for their tremendous support and generous donation! They not only provide the storage space and pick-up area for our drop-off center, they also provided our first two vehicles and gas for the first trip!! We couldn’t have done it without you!

>Tokyo IS Support Drop Center

>(Editor’s note: The following posting is taking from a request for volunteers by the Tokyo IS Support Drop center, and some information about their activities culled from their web page.

Tokyo International School as an Emergency Supply Center to drop off the supplies listed below to be delivered by truck to the Tohoku region to support the 1,000’s of people in many shelters who are in desperate need of these supplies. They collaborating with Second Harvest Japan to collect these supplies and the delivery them to Tohoku.

They need at least two people working in two shifts to be at TIS from 9 AM – 7 PM on a daily basis to be able to receive these supplies. We will organize these things in the lobby of TIS and they will be picked up on a regular basis. We will be available to start receiving these items from Tuesday, March 22nd at 9 AM (Sunday & Monday holiday with no delivery). Please send an e-mail to us through http://www.support.tokyois.com/ if you are willing to volunteer to sort the items and box them to be sent to those in need.

You can Act NOW

Tokyo International School & TEDxTokyo communities have partnered with Second Harvest Japan to receive needed supplies at Tokyo International School for immediate delivery to the disaster areas.

Tokyo International School Emergency Supply Center

We have decided to use Tokyo International School as an Emergency Supply Center to drop off the supplies listed below to be delivered by truck to the Tohoku region to support the 1,000′s of people in many shelters who are in desperate need of these supplies. We are collaborating with Second Harvest Japan to collect these supplies and the delivery them to Tohoku. They have already been receiving and sending supplies to those in need.
We need at least two people working in two shifts to be at TIS from 9 AM – 7 PM on a daily basis to be able to receive these supplies. We will organize these things in the lobby of TIS and they will be picked up on a regular basis. We will be available to start receiving these items from Tuesday, March 22nd at 9 AM (Sunday & Monday delivery companies closed). Please send complete message form  if you are willing to volunteer to sort the items and box them to be sent to those in need.

What do we need to send?

Any unexpired and unopened food that does NOT require refrigeration.
Ear plugs, earphones, eye masks, rice, retort-pouch food, canned food, emergency ration type of food, baby bottles, baby formulas, baby food, calorie-mate (energy bars),
portable water tanks, bottled water, portable water filters, paper cups, plastic bottles, portable gas stoves, solid fuels, camping pots, lanterns, blue sheets (plastic sheets), ropes, toilet paper, tissues, wet wipes, paper diapers, menstrual pads, medicines , emergency kit, masks, contact lens solution, mouth wash/gargles, soaps, shampoos (the kinds that don’t need water are good),
towels, blankets, sleeping bags, gloves, helmets, flash lights, slippers, batteries, candles, lighters, gasoline, kerosene, can openers, bottle openers, folding knives, trash bags, headache medicine, gastrointestinal medicine, pain killers, sanitizers, paper plates, paper cups, plastic spoons, plastic forks and chopsticks.

Please do not send us expired food, opened packages or any clothing!

Also, please pay for shipping when you send your donation. 

Send to all items by takubin or post to:
TIS Disaster Relief Supplies 3-4-22 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0073
Phone: 090 6569-7038
Or drop it off at Tokyo International School
Please send your e-mail message with your inquiry or willingness to support by entering your information in Contact us on the right hand column.

Tokyo International School & TEDxTokyo Communities in collaboration with Second Harvest Japan

>Donating Goods to the Disaster Victims


Donating Goods to the Disaster Victims: What You Should Know!

Editor’s note: This entry is a direct reposting of an account written by Japanese journalist Toshinao Sasaki’s coverage at Uniken, the Japan Universal Design Research Institute. The original entry in Japanese can be found on his web pageMr. Sasaki has given his permission for the full post to be republished on other sites. Thanks to Camellia Nieh for the translation. )

On the 17th, when I announced my recent blog post titled “Report from the Disaster Area: Circumstances Differ from the Hanshin Earthquake” on Twitter, many people tweeted responses questioning my sources and accusing me of rumormongering. Immediately afterwards, I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Yoshie Yokoo of the NPO Uniken on the telephone, further substantiating my position.

Uniken, J apan Universal Design Research   Institute

http://www.npo-uniken.org/  (Japanese only)
The non-profit organization Uniken currently has staff  and volunteers on the ground in the disaster-affected areas conducting relief activities, launching a project dubbed “the Japan Universal Disaster Relief Headquarters.”  The following is a summary of what I learned from Ms. Yokoo over the telephone.

 (1) The Japan Universal Disaster Relief Headquarters, or Japan Universal, has deployed a large number of volunteers to the disaster-affected areas. In Kesennuma for example, volunteers are piloting and staffing three privately owned helicopters to conduct relief activities. Other volunteers left Tokyo at 6pm on March 16th in two 2-ton trucks loaded with relief goods. They arrived at their destination in Yamagata at dawn on the 17th, roughly 12 hours later. Without stopping to sleep, they continued onwards to Kesennuma, an area affected by the tsunami. Many other volunteers are conducting similar activities. Currently, only trained volunteers with significant disaster relief experience are entering the disaster zones. Japan Universal is certified by the Japanese Cabinet Office and has been issued a government permit to use the highways to transport goods out of Tokyo.

(2) What is now becoming clear is that the circumstances of this disaster are completely unlike those of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. 

In the wake of that disaster, the local governments of Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe City and Ashiya City were still functioning. For that reason, the local authorities were able to distribute relief materials and funds from the Red Cross to affected areas. This became the grounds for the widespread directives to “send money, not goods” and “coordinate [all volunteer activities] through the Red Cross.”

In this disaster, however, the local authorities who would normally coordinate aid have been completely destroyed. As a result, the Red Cross, Japan Self-Defense  Forces, and firefighter rescue teams are unable to cover the entire disaster  area. This has lead to a dire situation: pockets of survivors taking refuge together in isolation, undiscovered by the authorities, and completely without water, food, fuel, electricity, or  telephone access.

For that reason, the rules that applied to the Great Hanshin Earthquake do not apply to this disaster.

 (3) After the earthquake, Ms. Yokoo of Japan Universal conducted a 48-hour survey of the disaster area beginning in  Yamagata Prefecture. This is what she found (note that the following contains upsetting descriptions.)

An NPO discovered an isolated evacuation center with 50 survivors undiscovered by the authorities. They alerted the Self-Defense Forces, but another tsunami wave came and the entire group got wet. When the Self-Defense Forces rushed in 30 had already died. If dry  clothes had reached the group in time, their deaths might have been averted.

A welfare facility already inhabited by many elderly residents took in 130 survivors, but there was no food or water.

In an area with 200-300 infants, there was only one can of infant formula. Survivors searched desperately to scavenge goods but continued to be buffeted by dangerous aftershocks and tsunami waves.

Recovered corpses cannot legally be cremated without an autopsy, but the volume of bodies has overwhelmed the police. Nonetheless, the Miyagi Prefectural Police are laboring tirelessly to contend with the situation.

Once the Self-Defense Forces or rescue squads have located groups of survivors, they are able to establish distribution routes and provide food and water. The problem is that there are isolated survivors in locations yet undiscovered by the Self-Defense Forces. NPOs are now working in disaster zones to uncover these groups and alert the Self-Defense Forces or police.

Right now, the people in the disaster zones have no dry clothing. They are wet and cold and in danger of freezing to death. In the Great Hanshin Earthquake, donations of used clothing became a burden in the disaster zone, but this situation is different. There is an urgent need for dry clothing, used or otherwise.

The greatest problem is the availability and transport of goods. We do not have sufficient materials and there is no gasoline to transport what we do have.

(4) Our disaster relief systems never anticipated the simultaneous occurrence of so much damage over such a great area. For that reason, nobody has a complete picture of the situation. There is too much talk of “the lessons we learned in Kobe” on the TV and Internet. The lessons we learned in Kobe do not apply to this disaster. We must recognize that the situation is completely different
this time.

(5) What we can do in Tokyo and elsewhere to help the disaster victims:
We need to reach out to the disaster zones by providing goods and the means to transport them.

Goods can be donated either by individuals or by corporations. Because of the Hanshin Great Earthquake, many corporations maintain the conviction that goods must only be channeled through the Red Cross. For this reason, they have hesitated to donate goods to NGOs.  This does not reflect a lack of willingness to help, but rather a lack of understanding of the current situation. The Red Cross alone cannot distribute sufficient materials. NPOs must step forward to fill in the gaps.

Donations from individuals
The Japan Universal website cites a need for two types of goods, “survival goods for isolated areas of severe damage” and “dry clothing and blankets for isolated areas of severe damage.” Other materials will also be collected, but the group asked that contributors focus on life-saving materials at this time. Donations should be packaged in clear plastic bags or clearly marked paper boxes.

Donating aid materials to the disaster victims

Current donation center location:
Relief Materials Collection Service 

Japan Universal Disaster Relief Headquarters

3-21 Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo, 101-0054
Please drop off donations at the wood deck on the 1st Floor.

Donations can be brought directly to the collection center (this option is preferable.) If you prefer to send packages by a delivery service, please be sure to send an e-mail detailing the content of your donation. Workers may be unable to respond to your e-mail but know that your contribution is appreciated.

Regarding transport:

At this juncture, the organization asks that untrained volunteers do not travel to the disaster zone. This is the rescue stage of the operation, not the rebuilding stage, and those involved may be expected to collect rotting bodies from disaster sites. There is also a shortage of fuel with which to reach the affected areas.

If you have gasoline tanks and are able to drive to disaster zones and back to deliver it, the organization would like your help transporting materials. Japan Universal can arrange a driving permit in such cases.

This is what I learned from our telephone conversation. The situation is in a state of constant flux so I will continue to follow up with Ms. Yokoo. Please feel free to copy and repost the full text of this blog post at other locations. However, please link back to this blog so that the source of the information is known.

<English translation by Camellia Nieh, http://members.jat.org/users/Camellia>

>Beans and pineapple juice!


This is a quick cellphone photo of the beans and pineapple juice that were part of the first donation to the group, and the initial spark that inspired a ragtag collection of Tokyo-based foreigners to team together for delivering much needed food, water, supplies, daily essentials and equipment up to the people in Tohoku most affected by the devastating tsunami. Sincere thanks to Ikon Europubs for providing the warehouse space and drop-off location, and to Bluesilver Events for arranging our transportation and first big donations!!

Our first shipment just took off for Sendai earlier today (March 11th) they should be back in Tokyo in a day or two, and we will be uploading their photos soon after they get back.

Thank you again for your support.
We couldn’t have sent the first truck out without your generous donations!
Thank you!

– Foreign Volunteers Japan

>Foreign Volunteers Japan

>Hello everyone,

Thank you very much for your interest in Foreign Volunteers Japan and our project to collect food and essential supplies for distributing to the people of Tohoku who have lost their houses, family members, and even some complete villages due to the devastating tsunami which followed the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Sendai earthquake. 

Our mission is to bring as much food and as many supplies as possible to the areas that were severely affected by the Tsunami, but have so far gone neglected by the recovery efforts. Due to the massiveness of the Tsunami’s reach, there are many areas that are facing extreme shortages of daily necessities, this lack of necessary supplies is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

In order to help combat this, the founders and head organizers of this group, from Bluesilver Events, and Ikon Europubs, have so far arranged for two 4 ton trucks to make several trips up North with all of the supplies that they can collect. The initial donation that got this project started was an 8 ton donation of baked beans. Many of the emergency shelters up North are serving soup, but are lacking vegetables and other nutrient-rich ingredients that could add sustenance to the meals. Which is why even several tons of beans are likely to make a difference in this afflicted area.  While that was the initial donation, they are now looking for the following:

if you can, please send donations of food, diapers, fuel, blankets, clothing, children’s toys, sweets, toilet rolls, chopsticks, paper plates, water, towels, futons, tents, cardboard boxes, plastic forks, charcoal, etc…
However long it takes, this team is dedicated to making sure everything reaches the people in need.

Please send or directly drop off donations to

14-5 daikyocho shinjuku 160-0015
Ikon Europubs KK



Please let us know if you have any questions, or would like any further information about the project.

Thank you for reading this, and sincere thanks for your support.


– Foreign Volunteers Japan 

Foreign Volunteers Japan was established as an open discussion forum for sharing and discussing information regarding volunteer activities, aid delivery, and humanitarian relief issues concerning the post-quake/tsunami recovery in the Tohoku region.