2-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake: You can still help

Today, March 11, is the 2nd year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the north-eastern coast of Honshu, the main island of Japan. I would write many things about it, but I'd like to focus on some ways you can help the victims of the earthquake, besides the usual places such as the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, that you may not have been aware of.

Hatachi Fund

The Hatachi Fund is non-profit set up to help the children who survived the earthquake. To quote from their site:

The Hatachi Fund is a Japanese financial body that aims to provide ongoing support for education and independence for children affected by the disaster so thatthey can grow into independent twenty-year-old adults who will in turn support society at large (twenty-years-old, hatachi, is the age of maturity in Japan)....

In the near future, even if the towns [devasted by the earthquake] have recovered, even if the schools are repaired, lost family and friends will not return. The children will have a lot of “homework” to get over. But without forgetting the pain of the disaster, if there is someone who can keep giving encouragement – “you are not alone” – over the long term, keep providing kindness, we believe this can be the driving force to get through this trial. And in turn, with the strength due to overcoming this trial, they can become an adult of strength and kindness, and in turn be an ally to help solve the future challenges society will face.

Children who have faced hardship and adversity can become stronger and kinder than anyone. The growth of children affected by this disaster is this country’s new hope. With these thoughts in mind, we established this fund to provide on-going support to children.

Read their complete mission statement. You can donate directly with a Visa or Mastercard credit card in increments of 1,000 yen; or if you're in Japan, you can make a donation via bank transfer. (I don't recommend international bank transfers since the fees are ridiculous.) Alternatively, and especially if you're in the UK/Europe, Japan Centre is holding a Tsunami Art Relief Project event on their online shop, with many attractive items for sale; proceeds go to the Hatachi Fund. I've already ordered this pretty cool grafikgraffi ramen tote bag for myself.


Donating goods directly via Amazon Japan Wish Lists

(See update below for a step by step how-to for this method.)

I've already mentioned this before, it's still one of my favorite ways to donate to the survivors of the earthquake that are most in need. This method may appeal especially if you want to donate directly to the grass-roots organizations that are helping people, and animals, who were most directly affected.

Here is the list of organizations seeking donations of goods. Click on any of the links in the list.

For example, this is the wish list of a facility in Ishinomaki City that houses many elderly people who are unable to work or move around much. Most of the wished-for goods are things like rice and umeboshi, which I'm sure the residents crave. Just click on the yellow-orange 'put into shopping cart' button (the wish lists are laid out exactly as they are on other Amazons).

Or if you're an animal lover, you can buy some things off this wish list from an animal shelter in Fukushima; not only do they use the pet food listed there for animals in the shelter, they also distribute it to local residents who are still in dire financial straits to feed their pets. (If you want translations of other wish lists there, let me know and I'll be happy to oblige.)

Update: I thought that you could use your existing Amazon.com (or other Amazon) login on Amazon Japan, but it seems you can't anymore. You will have to establish a new account on Amazon.co.jp first. If you choose to go that route, I recommend clicking the "Switch to English" link at the top of the page first, which will make all the business parts of the site appear in English. I'm sorry for the confusion! (It's weird though because my Amazon accounts are tied to each other - as in, when I update my address book in one, it gets updated to all the verious-country Amazons I use. Maybe this is legacy behavior.)

So to repeat: first go to the Amazon Japan home page. Switch the page to English, and open a new Amazon account there. They do take international credit cards. Input your info as you would on any other Amazon.

Then go to the list of organizations seeking donated goods. It looks like this:


Click through the list to find an organization that appeals to you. At this point the organizations seeking donated goods are either ones that run shelters or delivery goods and services to people living in temporary homes and/or the elderly and immobile, or animal shelters and animal rescue groups. You can tell which is which by the types of goods they are asking for, as well as the profile picture. All the animal related groups have adorable pet pictures. This is the page for the Fukushima animal shelter mentioned above. Their top priority item is dog food.


Helping all around

If you think that Japan is a rich enough country to take care of itself, consider just placing a donation with an organization that goes to help out during any world crisis, such as Doctors Without Borders.


I wrote about my thoughts on the one year anniversary a year ago.

And, here's a rather uh, angrier thing I wrote earlier today on Quora. (It's there because, honestly, Quora questions about Japan piss me off about a 1000x more than any comments I've gotten on JustHungry or JustBento. ^_^;)

Filed under:  japan earthquake

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Thanks for posting, I always enjoy all that you share about cooking and about Japan and the culture. Just before I Read this I just finished watching this short move about the Tsunami, called "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom".


It is very touching and I could feel the heartache and the hope from the people in the film.

Thanks for assembling all these resources and writing about this. I avoided the tv yesterday, but was thinking about how I can continue to help as my favorite donation site became less appealing over time. Long, not feel good story there(ーー;)

Thank you for this. (And the Quora post)

I must say that purchasing random (to this Canadian living in Germany) Japanese food entirely in Japanese is a new adventure. I just followed your link and clicked on the yellow buttons a few times.

Again, thank you for this.

I became an embarrassed American on March 11, 2011. I live in the Kanagawa Prefecture. Days following, I spent countless hours on the computer calming the nerves of family members because of the sensationalism of the US media.

At one point, one of my Japanese mothers (I teach in an American school), gave me the most beautiful card telling me how thankful she was I stayed to continue teaching her son. The out pouring of appreciation of the Japanese people during that time endeared the entire country to me - a country I had already come to love.

Thank you very much for providing such resources to assist. I need some help getting Amazon pages to English, please. I've watched NHK world news for years on local PBS-TV (as well as BBC), and my admiration for so much of the Japanese culture continues to grow. There have been some amazing TV shows regarding the care of the elderly. I'm grateful for a way to help.

Thank you for posting this. Although I'm not Japanese, the country and the people of Japan are very dear to my heart.

It made me really sad and angry this morning when the local news 'celebrated' the anniversary of the quake by complaining about all the tsunami debris 'clogging our shores'. The media would rather focus on pieces of flotsam than the people who experienced the tragedy and those who still need our help. I can't imagine what these people are thinking when they say things like that.

Thank you for letting us know how we can still help and the links. I'll be donating.

If you donate to the Salvation Army and specify that it be used for Japan's tsunami relief, it will go there and nowhere else. The Salvation Army is more respected and honest than the Red Cross.

Love your post here. My heart went out to everyone at that time and I had wished I could do so much more than I did. Yes sadly Japan has stereo-type like you said and I am jealous of my friend who is a Japanese teacher and gets to take her students to Japan. I want to learn more about Japan then it is just a place of ramen, sushi and anime. I try to learn everything I can and will one day read all your post. The Japanese culture fascinates me as does the landscape.

I tried to donate but am confused by the webpages being in Japanese. I would really like to donate to an animal fund as well as any general relief. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I just came back from Japan and have never felt such amazing hospitality and respect anywhere else in the world. Thank you and love your blog!

For people confused by the Amazon Japan wish list pages, I'll put up a screenshot illustrated guide soon.

hi maki

just tried donating via amazon.com.jp, but i could not select the Shipping address that you defined. It jumped to a page which required me to add an address ie the address of the facility for the senior citizens.

Pls assist. thanks

Hi, as I commented above I'll put up a screenshot-guide soon for the Amazon Japan wish lists.

Thanks so much for posting this! :D I lived in Japan for two years and of course was devastated when this happened. I actually knew someone who died that day. I've been wanting to give recently, because I imagined people would still be in need, but I did not know how to do so. (When I went to the site via your link, it entered the shipping address automatically, so I had no difficulties there.) Thanks again for posting this. :)