Japan Volunteer Opportunities

If you’re fascinated by everything Japanese and have a passion for helping others, you may want to look into volunteering opportunities in Japan. The country has always been a popular destination for volunteers, not least because of its unique culture and cuisine. Even before the March 2011 earthquake, which naturally prompted lots of volunteer action, the charity sector has provided services to the country’s less developed areas. As a result, there’s always room for volunteers in Japan, regardless of age, background, or qualifications.

You can find Japan volunteer opportunities at Japanese communities in your area, or at the local offices of large organizations like the Red Cross or the Save the Children Foundation. The work covers a wide range of areas, from manual and office work to jobs that require more expertise. Even if you’re not qualified, you can help out in little ways—give out food, teach kids, do paperwork—and get valuable work experience at the same time.

Most first-time volunteers find themselves doing administrative work at welcome desks or back offices. If you have good people skills and work well without supervision, this may be a good fit. It’s also a great way to see how the organization works, what its main programs are, and what other opportunities it offers. In large groups, you’ll usually be trained to do specific tasks and maybe even learn some Japanese. Eventually you can take on more responsibility and even start training other volunteers.

If you’re after more hands-on work, you can join an environmental or medical group. Their activities can include ocean clean-ups, medical missions, book readings, and occasionally emergency assistance. You may need some experience to be able to join, or take a training course from a larger outfit. What’s great about these jobs is that they qualify as professional experience—the fact that you’ve lent your skills to a worthy cause is sure to impress future employers. You can even name some of your newfound friends as references.

Seasonal events offer excellent Japan volunteer opportunities for those who want something temporary, or just want to get their toes wet before jumping fully into charity work. It also works well if you only have a few weeks free. Film and music festivals, summer shows, and local seminars could always use an extra hand. Having an interest or background in Japanese culture can help, but if you’re just there to learn, you’re more than welcome as well.

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