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Japan Relief & Recovery Report - What Nonprofits Are Doing On The Ground in Japan


As I was looking through the various reports by the nonprofits, I found that two organizations, Civic Force and Peace Winds were working together in making baths for those still living in shelters. In Japan, taking baths is a very important part of the people's lives, so this overlooked effort means a lot. Also, these efforts mean that the rebuilding process is just beginning; we still need more support for Japan!

Civic Force

(pictures from Civic Force blog)

In Minamisanriku-chou and Oofunato-shi, construction for baths has started. They made a temporary bath house with 2 baths and a couple of changing booths.

When the architects started construction, the people in the evacuation centers came to watch. One woman said:
"Women take a bath once a week at the bath set up by the Japanese self-defense force (which is only accessible by bus), but the men refrain from taking baths so the women can bathe, even if they have worked hard. I want them to be the ones to bathe first in this new one."
The staff were touched by the woman's compassion and thoughtfulness even through the worst situations.

But Civic Force is running into some problems trying to use old boilers that are fueled by wood, as the water continues to be dirty no matter how many times the architects try to fix it. They hope for it to be fixed soon!

Read more about what Civic Force did here.

Peace Winds

Peace Winds also set up a temporary bath place in Ofunato city:

(pictures from their blog)

They have a facebook too, where they are updating what they are doing. Someone has translated their posts in English so you can understand it. Read more about Peace Winds here.

3/29: More updates

Tzu Chi

Tzu Chi (the name means "Compassion and Relief") is an international humanitarian organization, and the largest NGO in the Chinese-speaking world. It has many branches in Asia, some of which are in Japan.

Tzu Chi volunteers from Japan and Taiwan delivered 20 tons of relief goods, including instant rice that can be prepared with hot or cold water, nuts, eco-friendly blankets, cloaks and sweat shirts to 7,000 people in shelters in Iwate prefecture. In Ofunato, a city of 42,000 that was decimated by the disaster, and Rikuzentaka, an area that was similarly affected, 19 volunteers distributed 1073 boxes of goods throughout the 25th and 26th.

(picture from their blog)

Here are some quotes from their blog:

One seven-year-old boy said: "I am terrified of another tsunami, which could take the lives of everyone. Our school has been destroyed and nobody knows the future." A lady of 71 with tears in her eyes, said that 16 years ago she had put all her savings into her home: "it vanished in an instant and I do not know how I will pass the rest of my days," she said.

These volunteers "moved the residents to tears", and are planning to continue providing aid directly to the victims. You can read their blog here and donate to them here.

Sorry for the late update; we are in the process of getting more news managers to regularly update the blog.

3/25: Personal Stories

Here are some touching personal stories of the survivors.

Save the Children

6 year old Kosuke (pseudonym) and his father told us about the earthquake when it hit.
"When the earthquake occurred, I fled with my son and pregnant wife to an elevated location," said Takahiko, the father. 20 minutes later, the family saw the large waves in front of their eyes.

"The large waves swallowed our house. But right after, a bigger, bigger wave came towards us and swallowed everything. It was so scary. When the water went down and we went to go see our house, there was nothing left, and my favorite toys and collectible cards were gone.

The family is taking shelter at a hospital now. "I want to go home. I want to take a bath and be with my friends," Kosuke told us. (from their blog)

They also updated how the donations can be used for the children:

3000 yen (app. $37) will buy 3 beach balls, 4 jump ropes, and 3 soccer balls that a group of children can use to move around.

5000 yen (app. $61) will buy 5 notebooks, 12 sets of crayons, 3 sketchbooks, 12 sets of colored pencils, and one pencil sharpener for a group of children to draw with.

10000 yen (app. $123) will buy 2 picture books, 50 sets of origami papers, 3 sets of clay, 4 stuffed animals, 2 sets of board games, and 2 sets of puzzles for a group of children to play creatively with.

Save the Children also set up four "child-friendly spaces" where the children in relief shelters can interact with staff and other children. Read more about what Save the Children does and how to donate here.

ADRA Japan

ADRA organized a food drive for citizens in Sendai, providing hot food for the victims. Hideo Watanabe, Programme Officer of ADRA Japan reported an incident that happened on the 20th:

At around 3PM, a woman around 50 years old fainted due to anemia while waiting in line. Thankfully it was not serious, and we drove her back to her home after having her rest a little.

According to her, she lives alone; although her daughter lives in a nearby city, there is not enough gasoline to use the car and thus the daughter could not reach her mother.

Her house is safe, and although she has electricity and running water, she can only take a bath every four days as she does not know when the gas lines will be repaired. She could not even go far to go buy necessities due to gasoline shortages, and even if she lined up at the store for more than three hours, she could only buy a meager amount of food. In a situation where most of the houses are almost out of food, she was very thankful for the hot meals that ADRA provided.

She continued; "A lot of things are gradually going back to normal. It's hard living on things you are not used to eating such as dried bread and instant noodles, but I am more fortunate than others in that I have a life and a house. Even if it is only once or twice a day, I am extremely thankful and happy for these hot meals."
(post translated from here)

ADRA continues to provide assistance to those affected by the earthquake by providing food and supplies to various relief shelters in the Sendai area. Read more here.

Operation Blessing International

The Matsumoto family is one of many families living in the temporary relief shelters at a local school in Shiogama city.


From their blog:

We spoke to Mr. Matsumoto who told us that the first floor of his house was completely inundated with mud from the tsunami. They lost most of their belongings and will never be able to live there again. He seemed slightly lost as he explained that he had no idea how long his family (six members including his wife, grandmother and three children) would need to live in the shelter. He was thankful to Operation Blessing for bringing food and water supplies and said that they felt well cared for under the circumstances.

Operation Blessing International provides food, water, and medical assistance to those in need, and is carrying out disaster relief efforts in Japan. They have been able to deliver these supplies directly to the areas affected in small towns near Sendai, including Otsuchi where half of the 17,000 residents are still missing, and Shiogama, where they are the only organization working for the city of 60,000.

(all pictures from their blog)

They have been able to provide food, water, kerosene heaters, and other necessary goods in this manner, and will continue to do so. You can read their updated blog here, and donate to their organization here.

3/24: Local nonprofits in action.


The Association of Medical Doctors of Asia, an organization that mainly provides medical assistance to countries in times of emergency, sent a team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and surveyors to locations in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures; a total of 56 people are now working in the field, and have been able to access even the heavily affected parts with electric cars and helicopters.

They have also been providing medical supplies (medicine, vitamins, masks, IV equipment, flashlights, heat packs) that is needed in the areas hit hardest. Food supplies have also been provided in conjunction with Okayama Cooperative Association, and include 700 instant noodles, 1000 bread rolls, 1100 drinks, 1100 fruits, and other disposable utensils.

Here's the page where they are updating on the current situation (in English). You can also donate to them here if you want to directly donate to their bank account.

Civic Force

Civic Force Japan is a nonprofit organization in Japan that was established after the Niigata Earthquake in 2004, aiming to provide swift and effective services in case of large-scale crises in Japan through emergency response teams and ensuring communication among partners to mobilize volunteers, funds, and goods. They make sure that the smaller, more obscure locations are not ignored, bringing supplies and services to victims directly if the other organizations could not get around to those locations.

They have partnered up with many organizations to provide supplies to 20,000+ victims in 142 locations, including fuel, 510 stoves, 3000 cans of Japanese grilled chicken, enough Snickers to fill a 4-ton truck, 2000 cups of hot coffee, and 20 tons of rice.

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You can donate to them here.

Japan Universal Design Natural Disaster Relief Team

The Japan Universal Design Coordinator Organization (site in Japanese) set up a special relief team based around Tokyo that is currently sending much needed equipment to the isolated, affected areas that are often overlooked by larger organizations or the government. Using facebook to reach out to many individuals, they have volunteers sorting out the emergency relief supplies that have been shipped to them, including food, drinks, gloves, waterless shampoo, socks and underwear. Using their helicopter and trucks, they have been able to reach out to the smaller communities, including one where there was only one can of milk formula for all of the mothers in the community.

No pictures yet, as they will update once Japan transitions from a "life-sustaining" phase to a "rebuilding" phase. You can donate to them via paypal here.


KnK (Kokkyou naki Kodomotachi) or Children without Borders is an organization devoted to supporting disadvantaged children in Asia and raising awareness about their situation, especially in Japan. They have acquired a car to transport various supplies to Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures, and the first delivery of blankets, diapers, and baby formula (donated from citizens in Tokyo and All Nippon Airways) was made on the 19th to North Ibaraki. They are also planning to send 2 vehicles to Iwate Prefecture on March 26th to provide blankets, diapers, underwear, and other requested items.

They have also started a message project from people all over the world to encourage and comfort the victims, especially the children. You can either post a message on their site here or email them at kodomo@knk.or.jp in jpeg format. The first set of messages got delivered to North Ibaraki, where the victims were deeply touched. You can read the messages here.

(pictures from their site)

3/23: Specific Japanese NGOs

Here are the more specific things that these Japanese NGOs have doing in Japan. You can donate to any of these with a credit card.


NGO JEN helps with emergency assistance in various areas around the world, helping the victims recover both economically and mentally. They have set up a blog here outlining the work they have done onsite so far. They've already provided 600 hot meals in Sendai on the 16th, (it was the first hot meal that many had since the quake) sent out three rescue teams, and are gathering emergency relief goods to bring to the victims. Here are some pictures they took from the site:

You can donate to JEN here.

AAR Japan

Association for Aid and Relief Japan is doing various efforts on-site for those affected. All information below is from their blog.

They provided tea, oranges, bananas and some snacks to evacuees taking shelter at Nakano Junior High School in Sendai city on the 15th.

Blanket delivery
They also donated 7,200 diapers, 200 pairs of ladies' underwear, 40 sets of antiseptic alcohol, 1,000 toothbrushes, 50 blankets, and 4 cans of milk to No.2 Elementary School in Onagawa on the 19th. (Onagawa is another area hit hard by the earthquake)

Most recently (on the 22nd), they delivered goods such as diapers for adults and infants, clothes, futon mattress, etc., in addition to water, milk, milk powder, and sweet-bean cake to two small welfare facilities for elderly people in Okawara-town, and the municipal office in Iwanuma City, Miyagi. The contacted facilities will pass on these resources accordingly; one facility is planning to redistribute the goods to approximately 500 survivors living in the neighborhood.

You can donate to AAR here.

3/23: Japanese NGOs

Although there are many international organizations scrambling to collect money for the Japan relief effort, there are many Japanese organizations that are less known here working directly on-site. I'll do an update on what kind of great things these organizations are doing. Many of them have donation pages open in English now as well.

Compiled by SEEDS Asia, an organization that addresses disaster management and environmental conservation within the Asia Pacific region, this is a very brief rundown of what the main NGOs in Japan are doing at the moment. I will try to update more about each of them.

- AAR (Association for Aid and Relief): fuel, water, food, hygiene products and emergency relief item distribution in Kesennuma, Sendai, Iwanuma and Ishinomaki city, Yamamoto town, Miyagi Prefecture as well as Oduchi town, Iwate Pref.

- ADRA Japan: food and emergency relief item distribution in Sendai, Osaki, Higashi Matsushima city, Miyagi Pref.

- AMDA (Association of Medical Doctors of Asia): doctors, nurses, and coordinators, providing medical assistance and distribution of basic supplies in Sendai city and Minamisanriku, Miyagi Pref and Kamaishi city and Oduchi town, Iwate Pref.

- CARE: emergency relief items arrived Kamaishi city, Iwate Prefecture.

- Child Fund: distributed hygiene products in Minami Soma City, Fukushima Pref.

- Civic Force: relief items continue to reach Kesennuma city. Major companies are providing cash/in-kind donations.

- FIDR (Foundation for International Development/Relief): distribution of snacks in Kesennuma and Minamisanriku, Miyagi Pref., according to Pref., there are many children taking refuge in Minamisanriku.

- Good Neighbors: relief and hygiene products distribution in Oduchi town, Iwate Pref.

- Japan Heart: providing medical care in Miyagi prefecture, disseminating psychological care information through its website

- JEN: food and basic relief items distribution Sendai, Miyagi Pref., accepting listed in-kind donation from public till 24 Mar.

- JIFH (Japan International Food for the Hungry): distribution of food and basic supplies in Sendai city and Date city, Fukushima, and Kesennuma, Miyagi. with international aid workers joining its base camp, relief items are also collected from Western part of Japan and its US partner.

- JPF: distributing food, water in Sendai city, coordinating JPF member organizations.

- JVC: basic medical supply item distribution in Natori city, Miyagi.

- KnK: distribution of basic relief item and baby formula in Kita Ibaraki city, Ibaraki Pref.

- MSF: providing medical assistance and emergency relief items in Tome/Kesennuma city, Minamisanriku cho, Miyagi Pref.

- The NGO collaboration center for HANSHIN QUAKE Rehabilitation/CODE: providing food in Natori city, Miyagi prefecture

- NICCO: medical assistance (including psychological care), toiletries distribution, portable toilet set-up Natori and Iwanuma city, Miyagi Pref. and site investigation in Rikuzentakata city, Iwate Pref.

- Plan Japan: providing psychological care for children at teachers training event, toys and books in Tagajo, Miyagi.

- PWJ (Peace Winds Japan): expanded its operation in Ofunato and Rikuzentakada, Iwate Pref., distribution of relief items, free iridium satellite telephone services and mobile phone charging services in Kesennuma, Miyagi Pref.

- Rocinantes: providing medical assistance in Natori, Iwanuma city, Miyagi Pref.

- Shaplaneer: providing food and relief items in Kita Ibaraki city, Ibaraki Pref.

- SHARE: medical assistance in Natori city, Miyagi Pref., providing medical need information in English

- Shanti: distribution of relief items and food in Kesennuma, Miyagi Pref.

- World Vision Japan (WVJ): distribution of water, toiletries in Tome City and Minamisanriku, Miyagi Pref.

3/22: More current activity

More organizations that are helping out in Japan now.

Save the Children

Save the Children is an organization devoted to providing aid to children who have been displaced by the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. They opened the first child-friendly space in Japan, which are protective environments where children can gather to play and share their experiences under the supervision of their staff. They are collecting donations on their site as well.

This is their blog that covers the work done by Save the Children workers currently in Japan. Here are some pictures below:

Want to volunteer?

Here are some organizations that are thinking of sending volunteers to Japan in the future for the rebuilding effort. Most organizations are not sending volunteers yet as it is still extremely dangerous, and citizens outside of Japan are still encouraged to refrain from entering the emergency zone.


Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope (CRASH) is a network supporting Christians to do relief work in Japan and around the world. They have a page where they are updating on all of the aid they are currently providing in Japan. Most recently, one of their planned six bases in Meysen Academy (in Sendai city) has been promised two 40-foot containers full of rice and soy, donated from Feed the Hungry. 93 tons of emergency relief supplies are on their way from Yokota Air Base from Samaritan's Purse.

Crash Japan

If you are interested in volunteering with them in Japan, you can sign up to receive more information about it here.

All Hands Volunteers

All Hands Volunteers is an USA-based Nonprofit that provides assistance to those affected by natural disasters with housing, meals, tools, and work. If you want to know more about the situation in Japan from their staff, they have a series of videos uploaded on their site. One is below:

Marc Shows the Tsunami Destruction from Several Perspectives from All Hands Volunteers on Vimeo.

They are also planning to send volunteers to Japan in the future; sign up here or follow them on twitter @AllHands to get more information.

3/22: Rescue teams

There are many hands reaching out to Japan now; 128 countries and 33 international organizations have offered their help, whether it is a group of rescue teams, money, gasoline, blankets, rice, water, or rescue dogs.

Here are other great non-governmental organizations helping out with the rescue process in Japan.

Rescue Dogs

Although they are less in need now, many groups have sent rescue dogs to Japan, contributing to the search for survivors.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation sent out six search teams (based in California) to Japan the day the earthquake hit. They have returned now, but here's a video from their site talking about the help they sent out.

Rescue dog Rescue dog 2
The Disaster Rescue Dog Network (Saigai Kyuujo Dog Network) in Japan sent out 26 people and 23 dogs to various sites in Japan, based around Kesennuma-city, the area hit hardest. They worked through multiple aftershocks and tsunami warnings, and withdrew on the 19th.
The Disaster Rescue Dog Association in Japan (NPO Zenkoku Saigai Kyuujoken Kyoukai)
also sent a total of 17 people and 11 rescue dogs to Toyama and Niigata prefectures. They have also withdrawn but contributed to the discovery of many missing people.

Sorry for the late update! (Technology issues.) More coming soon.

3/21: Update by News Manager

This is incredible. An 80 year old woman and her 16 year old grandson were recently found alive, 9 days after the earthquake. The rebuilding process is just beginning! Update: Video below!

Here are some things that organizations have done so far to provide immediate aid to the earthquake/tsunami relief in Japan.

Peace Winds

(video from their site)

Peacewinds Japan recently donated 400 stoves to various relief shelters in Kesennuma-shi, an area hit extremely hard by the earthquake. They have also gathered donations from other corporations and are in the process of distributing them to these relief shelters.

UPDATE (3/24):

510 more stoves were delivered to various shelters in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, along with fuel for them. Also, 2300 hot beef bowls were provided to the victims taking refuge at the middle school in Kesennuma city.

Shelterbox USA

Shelterbox USA recently shipped out 500 Shelterbox kits to Iwate prefecture in Japan. According to them, they have close to 1,000 ShelterBoxes either in Japan or on their way and another 5,000 ready to move.
(From their site)

Japanese Red Cross Society

Red cross helicopter arriving to transport patients in Japan. Japanese Red Cross Society donating blankets
(left: A doctor waiting for patients to arrive in the Self-defense force's helicopter. 3/15/11)
(right: 100,000+ blankets arrive in Japan. 3/12/11)

The Japanese Red Cross Society is putting out many rescue teams to various areas of Japan, including Iwate, Fukushima, Ibaragi, and Miyagi prefectures. There have been a total of 249 rescue teams and 3 emotional help teams out in the field. 122,530 blankets and 20,760 emergency survival kits have been shipped to various areas of Japan as well. (From their site in Japanese)

Additionally, they have a flickr where you can see pictures of the earthquake and relief efforts taking place.

Second Harvest Japan

Second Harvest Japan is a foodbank in Japan that is now distributing food to the relief shelters all over Japan. You can read their disaster relief report blog here and donate here.
(Picture from their site)


ADRA Japan is another international NGO that is providing aid. You can read their blog here (English links on the bottom left page). They have been going to Sendai city to provide food to the people living in the temporary relief shelters. Although the site is operating in Japanese, they have set up instructions in English on how you can donate here.

That's all for now, but there are many more organizations providing aid in Japan that you can contribute to. Make sure to check out current list of organizations soliciting donations in Japan.

Also, let me know what type of information you would like to see here; I speak Japanese so I would be more than happy to translate any sites that you would like me to translate. - Makiko, GreatNonprofits Japan News Manager

Donate to Japan


Many of you are wanting to donate to help Japanese earthquake victims. Many of you are asking if GreatNonprofits has recommended charities.

GreatNonprofits reached out to our overseas friends in Japan and asked for insight on which organizations are active and doing good work. While there are many more organizations, we wanted to report to you these recommendations we've received:

1. Japanese Red Cross Society (Accepts only Google Check-out)


According to our source in Japan:
Red Cross in Japan still has a good reputation here in Japan.In fact, most of the calls for donation by the media lead to the Red Cross. They work very well with local governments who are at the forefront of relief efforts as well as running shelters for refugees of tsunami and other disasters now.

2. AMDA (Association of Medical Doctors of Asia)


According to one source in Japan:

As it is difficult to get access to disaster areas because the roads are damaged or blocked, people are advised to stay away from these areas, perhaps except for doctors and nurses. AMDA as its name suggests are a group of doctors (just like Doctors Without Borders) which has a good reputation.

3. Peace Winds Japan


According to one source in Japan:

Peace Winds Japan's strength is that they have emergency helicopters and "are well practiced working at overseas disaster zones", according to my friend.

4. Second Harvest Japan (Donations needed for logistics, fuel, trucks, drivers)


We'll be further adding to this blog and reporting more information as we receive it.

*Quick Navigation Links*

Stories of survivors

Local Japanese NGOs on the ground

Other organizations that you can support that we've reported on below:

Save the Children
All Hands Japan
Organizations with rescue dogs
Shelterbox USA
Japanese Red Cross Society
Second Harvest Japan
Japan Universal Design Natural Disaster Relief Team
Operation Blessing International
Tzu Chi