As Christmas swiftly approaches, I’m hoping to donate a few things, which can often not be so straightforward in Japan. Here are a few places I think are good and pretty easy to donate to, though I know there are many more out there.
Probably the best place to donate to, in my opinion, is Second Harvest. I very briefly helped pack boxes of food for them a long time ago, and I still think that someday I’d like to take my kids to one of their outposts again and volunteer. They’re open to monetary donations, volunteering and food donations. Visit their website for details.
Every UNIQLO branch in Japan has a box into which you can put old UNIQLO or GU (pronounced like the letters G and U, which sounds like the Japanese word for “Freedom.” I will forever read the store name as “Goo”, though) clothes you don’t want anymore. Don’t put anything in there with holes or that is obviously super dirty, but otherwise, they’ll take it. To read more about what they do with the clothes, click here.
I don’t know if this is accurate, but last time I checked their donation box, they will take anything. Only have one shoe? They’ll take it. They don’t care if it’s clothes from their store or not, either. You can also get a 500 yen coupon for donating a bag of clothes. Check here for details.
Japan has wonderful places called 児童館 that roughly translates to a children’s home. This place uses taxpayer money to give kids a space to play, do homework, read books and just relax after school. It caters to younger kids, too.
They usually have events throughout the year as well, including Christmas parties, meetups for young parents and reading circles. As a young mom, I used to take my baby to the nearby children’s home all the time to let him play with the toys there and to meet other parents in the area. These places are amazing.
They do take donations, but you need to ask them in advance because every children’s home is different. I donated toys a while back that they said they would forward on to other children’s homes in the area. Many may have also changed this policy in light of the pandemic, so I would definitely ask them first.
If there’s a daycare in your area, you can always try calling them up to ask if they would like any of the toys your kids don’t want anymore. They also sometimes take books, but it depends on the daycare. It helps if you already have a kid at the daycare as I think the operators would be pretty startled to get a random call from someone. Also, again I don’t know if this policy has changed in light of the pandemic since I haven’t tried to donate toys recently to any of my local daycares.
The Salvation Army is also in Japan, and they have a couple of bazaars in Tokyo to which you can donate. You need to call them up first and explain what you want to donate. For details, please check here.