Volunteer in Japan
The Land of the Rising Sun is made up of over 3000 islands of which Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku are the four largest. Japan is highly advanced technologically and in many ways is very westernised, yet simultaneously it retains a strong sense of traditional culture. It is full of history, wonderful temples and beautiful, mountainous countryside and volunteers find Japan an incredibly clean and organised country. There are so many opportunities for volunteers to get involved, to learn Japanese and to travel.
Placements are located throughout Japan on the main islands.
Medical placements involve helping at Red Cross Hospitals and provide excellent experience for anyone hoping to work in medicine or health related fields. The work is varied as volunteers will work in a variety of wards helping with many different tasks. Japanese lessons will be provided at the hospitals and volunteers may be asked to teach English to the nursing staff. The more Japanese you know, the more responsible the tasks you may be given. The role of a medical volunteer in Japan is exciting and interesting and offers the volunteer a real insight into both medical care and Japanese culture.
Caring and Community placements
Community and caring placements will involve working in Leonard Cheshire Care Homes and homes for the elderly and disabled. The work is demanding and challenging but also extremely rewarding. Volunteers form strong relationships with the people they help to care for and their help is greatly valued by both the staff and patients.
Volunteers who work in old peoples’ homes or homes for people with disabilities find it more interesting than those in the UK as the Japanese emphasise the benefits of a stimulating, interesting environment and there is always much activity to motivate the residents including day trips, cookery, arts and crafts or drama. Our volunteers are always warmly welcomed and valued. There is also the option of working in a community care centre where volunteers will play with young children, talk to the elderly and make friends with adolescents at the centre.
Our Japanese placements offer a range of different experiences in various parts of the country. As a Medical Assistant you could be placed in a Japanese Red Cross hospital in the small southern city of Wakayama. With 865 beds and several different departments with different specialities, this placement would be well suited to those who want to gain an insight into a wide spectrum of medical areas. Your duties in this placement will include talking to patients, working with the nurse and medical teams, transporting patients around the hospital, distributing and collecting patients’ meals, preparing bandages and dressings and preparing food.
As a Caring Assistant, you could be placed in a home for the mentally and physically disabled in Takarazuka, a small city situated between Kobe and Osaka. Here you would help permanent staff and patients with activities such as cooking, painting and music. You would also help organise and lead outings and excursions. You may also be called upon to help with feeding and dressing residents. This placement can be challenging but is extremely rewarding.
If you decide to become a Community Worker, you could find yourself working in our host community centre in Tokyo. This community centre includes a nursery and community activities centre. It also encompasses a children’s home situated 180km away from Tokyo in the mountains. Although you would have the opportunity to visit the children’s home, you would predominantly work in the nursery and community activities centre. Your duties would include playing with the children, helping with the centre’s elderly programme and assisting with the baseball club and other recreational activities.
Accommodation and food
Accommodation is usually in apartments close to the hospital or care home where you are volunteering. Meals are provided on site and most placements provide pocket money.
Is it for me?
Volunteers must be patient, mature and respectful of cultural differences. The Japanese are very polite and volunteers must always remove their shoes when indoors, wait to be seated and be punctual. The diet in Japan is very healthy and there variety of different foods on offer plus the cosmopolitan nature of the population means there is always something delicious to enjoy. If you are willing to discover a new culture, learn a new language and enjoy the differences, then Japan is a fascinating country and an exciting time awaits.
Need to know
- Pre departure briefing – all volunteers are invited to a group briefing prior to departure
- On arrival – volunteers attend an orientation course before placements commence
In some placements, such as the medical and caring placements, you may be required to work during the Christmas or Easter break as these can be the busiest times of the year. But, whether or not this is the case, you will be able to take a break at some point to explore all the wonders that Japan has to offer. Japan is well-known for its fascinating cultural and historical roots and the natural beauty of its landscapes. If you are placed near Tokyo, why not take a day trip one weekend to visit Mount Fuji and Mount Komagatake, which gives wonderful views over the Hakone National Park? Further away from the neon glow of the capital, you could discover the Geisha culture in Kyoto, stay in a traditional Japanese ryohan (inn) and relax in the warming waters of an onsen (hot spring).
Japan is also well known for the fresh flavours of its cuisine. During the evening or at weekends, why not take a class in sushi making or ask one of your colleagues how to make the perfect ramen? Some host placements will even provide you with a bicycle for getting to work, so you could explore the surrounding country side on your days off from the comfort of your saddle.
Volunteers have the opportunity to travel at weekends and after their placements with Mount Fuji, the bright lights of Tokyo, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and, Himeji Castle being must sees. Japan is justly famous for its seasonal beauty and volunteers should make the effort to see the spring cherry blossom in Hokkaido and the autumn leaves at Jingo-ji Temple in Kyoto. On Honshu Island the Shinkansen is the way to travel, taking you from Tokyo to your destination faster than a speeding bullet. Further south, the island of Kyushu is more relaxed but no less interesting with its hot springs, volcanic range and breathtakingly beautiful shrines.
Lattitude Global Volunteering fee:
All departures: £2,200
- Accommodation & food (provided by host)
- Pocket money (provided by host)
- In-country support
- 24/7 support
- In-country orientation
- Assigned Volunteer Coordinator to help with all pre-departure support and offer guidance
- Pre-departure briefing
- Airport pickup
- In depth matching process to align your skills and interests with a placement that really suits you
Please note this fee does not include the cost of getting to Japan or extras such as insurance or any inoculations you may need. For an estimated break down of all costs you may have to budget for please click here
As a charity we always recommend our volunteers fundraise to help meet the costs involved in volunteering overseas. In many ways it is part of the whole experience. For more information and fundraising ideas please click here
Planning your trip
|Medical||6 months||Sept 2013||25 May 2013||Few spaces (female only)|
|Community Worker||6 months||Sept 2013||25 May 2013||Few spaces (female only)|
|Caring Assistant||6 months||Sept 2013||25 May 2013||Few spaces (female only)|
|Medical||6 months||March 2014||October 2013||Spaces Available|
|Community Worker||6 months||March 2014||October 2013||Spaces Available|
|Caring assistant||6 months||March 2014||October 2013||Spaces Available|
|Medical||6 months||Sept 2014||March 2014||Spaces available|
|Community Worker||6 months||Sept 2014||March 2014||Spaces available|
|Caring Assistant||6 months||Sept 2014||March 2014||Spaces available|
Please note that the deadline is the last possible time allowed to get an application form in that allows us enough time to match volunteers and begin sorting out visas.We always recommend applying as early as possible in order to secure your place.
We are currently accepting applications for departures up until 2015.
Volunteer in Japan: Apply now>>