This blog post was written by Tanner Goodwin from Utah currently interning at Seibo Japan!
A Japanese Pastime
Japan is portrayed as fast paced, always moving, with little time for anything apart from work. Children go to cram schools, businessmen work long hours, and housewives watch the children all day long.
However, there is an almost secret subculture that is pervasive throughout Japan. The volunteer communities!
I know what many of you must be thinking, “where do they find the time?”, “why haven’t I heard about these communities?”, “what’s the incentive?”. Worry not, your questions will soon be answered.
I have had the opportunity to take part in a number of volunteer activities; some large, others quite small, all for very important causes, and I can give you the information you seek.
Where do they find the time?
For many, volunteering is a hobby, and free time to do their hobbies is something that is taken advantage of when possible. Many adults enjoy doing this volunteer work, going as far as to dress in costumes while doing the work. Many youth volunteer during the summer to fulfil school requirements and can often be seen in the community, helping out. Regardless of the reason, they all seem to enjoy it greatly.
For example, when I went to a suicide prevention event at Tokyo Tower, there were high school students volunteering with Warm Hearts Coffee Club, in order to raise money to feed children in Malawi. They were smiling, laughing, and enjoying their time together while also having fun with the work. I couldn’t help but enjoy my time with them!
Why I haven’t heard of this?
I believe the volunteer community is one of Japan’s best kept secrets. They just don’t publicize themselves. Volunteers aren’t doing it for recognition or fame, they do it because they believe in the cause and want to give back to their community.
So why haven’t you heard of these volunteer groups? Because they don’t go bragging about what they do.
An example of this is when I went to a small apartment that is rented out by the Sisters of Vides, a Catholic church group that strives to provide meals for children in need. Not only were the sisters humble in their service, there was a university student volunteering her time to help the youth with homework. All this was so unassuming and not broadcasted or boasted about. The atmosphere was pleasant, and all seemed to enjoy being there!
What’s the incentive?
The incentive, as far as I can tell, is personal satisfaction and being part of a social community. As mentioned before, they don’t broadcast their good deeds to so everyone can see what a charitable person they are, they do it because they feel it should be done. For them, there doesn’t need to be an incentive beyond that. They feel good about what they do, so they continue to do it. A noble philosophy indeed.
How can I get involved?
There are so many ways to help. It can be as simple as a googling volunteer work in Japan and you’ll be presented with many options. If you are unable to give of your time or you don’t live in Japan but you still want to participate, consider using the services of these social enterprises, they donate a portion of or all their proceeds to charity!
Warm Hearts Coffee Club: A subscription coffee service that donates 100% of profits to charity. The coffee is also roasted and shipped the same day, to ensure freshness.
Cycle of Good: A company that teaches people from less fortunate countries how to upcycle rubber innertubes into other products. The money made from the products goes back to those workers.
Each of these social enterprises makes sure that all the products they offer are fair trade and they offer great support with any questions or difficulties you may encounter.
If none of these are appealing to you, consider donating to Seibo. They’re an NGO that has the lofty mission of “A meal for every hungry child at school”. They do good work in Malawi Africa and Tokyo Japan.
Find out more about how Mobal’s partners are making the world a better place: