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.

Placement Locations

Projects are located throughout Japan from Tokyo, Tochigi, and Nagoya in the middle, down to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukuoka and Kumamoto in the south.

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.

Roles Explained

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 will be given. As with any job, there are menial tasks involved. However, as one volunteer put it “even the most menial tasks are fun if you approach them in the right spirit and it is character building.”

Caring placements will involve working in Leonard Cheshire Homes and homes for the elderly. 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.

A small amount of pocket money is paid each week.

Accommodation and Food

Board and accommodation are provided at all placements. You may have to cook for yourself on the weekends in some placements. In all placements there is help in learning some Japanese and an English-speaking staff member will be on hand to help volunteers.

What’s Included?

Pre-departure briefing
Teaching skills course
Airport pickup
Pocket money
Accommodation & food
In-country orientation
In-country support
24/7 support

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



Interview fee $100
Contribution fee $3300
Tax $15


You will also need to budget for:
Travel insurance
Teaching skills course (teaching placements only)
Police check


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.


Program overview

Minimum age:
March, Sept
6 months

Roles available:

Local support in Japan

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Quick facts

127 million
GMT + 9
From temperate with cool summers and long winters in the north to subtropical in the Ryukyu islands in the south


“I climbed to the summit of Japan’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji, and saw a night sky I thought never existed, a glorious sunrise and the world beneath me. I tasted food I thought I’d never eat and found I loved it. I learned to speak, read and work in a language I’d never have imagined I’d learn” Cassim – Medical Assistant

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