Help Local Businesses & Give Back in Japan
A Private Tour with Japan Localized
Japan Localized is a free walking tour company with outposts in Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo, with Hiroshima on the horizon. The company was founded by Dai Miyamoto, an ex-full time financial sector salaryman who has been running Tokyo walking tours in his free time for the past three years. In 2019 quit his 9-5 office life with the ambition to showcase the culture of Japan, and followed by opening tours in Kyoto and Osaka. Most of the tours run on a tip basis, which is unusual for Japan, but means that the tour guests pay the guide how much they feel it was worth.
However, with stay at home orders in full effect and travel interrupted around the globe, the business is struggling. Dai wants to raise money so he can keep paying his tour guiding staff and also help support the local businesses frequented during the tours, so he’s set up a crowdfunding page. There are several rewards depending on the amount you donate, including letters handwritten by Japan Localized staff on authentic Japanese washi paper to private group tours (Kyoto is our recommendation), which can be bought in advance.
Buy a Coffee & Help the Homeless
The Sanya Cafe Cleanup Team is a collective of volunteers who help those in Tokyo doing it rough. The group runs a cafe in Sanya, an area in Kiyokawa, in Taito ward that’s known for being the home of many of Tokyo’s homeless and sleeping rough community. Once a week, the group also hit the streets of Sanya to pick up trash and connect with those who may need some assistance. Money from the cafe usually helps support the community through accommodation, and social integration initiatives and helps support those struggling to find stable housing situations in Tokyo.
Right now, through the online platform Gochimeshi you can buy meals from Sanya cafe in advance and use them when the pandemic is over. The cafe serves a multitude of different culinary options, including Thai food, light snacks, traditional Japanese cuisine, and plenty of cafe drinks. Also, if you’re feeling extra generous, you can buy a caring coffee for someone in need.
Let Tokyo Eat Cake
Run predominantly through Instagram, Let Tokyo Eat Cake is an incredibly simple but inspiring initiative. Justin, the man behind the project, is baking and delivering his carrot and banana cake, with all the money raised going to charity. Currently, the money he’s raising is going to Second Harvest Japan, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving food security, reducing food waste, and helping those living below the poverty line. But he’s open to exploring other charities in the future.
The cakes cost ¥3,000, contain no dairy, and can be ordered via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Instagram account for more details.
Send a Salad to Japan’s Medical Workers
Born in Tokyo in 2014, Crisp Salad Works is a stylish lunchtime hangout with 15 outlets now located in the city. Since the beginning of March, the company has seen a significant decrease in customers. Still, the team wanted to try and find a little positive in the situation, so they started offering free salads to medical workers fighting the virus. After receiving plenty of positive feedback, the company has decided to continue the campaign, now delivering food to frontline medical workers through their “CRISP CONNECT” campaign. Through Campfire you can make a donation (by buying a salad), and the money will be used as part of the operating funds for the program.
Located in the scenic city of Kanazawa, Kaname Inn opened in 2017, welcoming both domestic and international guests. Starting in April, the hotel even opened its doors to foreign guests who found themselves stranded in Japan with no way to get out and nowhere to stay, allowing people to stay for free. They called the initiative "Room for Rescue!"
The initiative was clearly fulfilling a big need, since the hotel was quickly booked to capacity, so Kaname Inn reached out to their contemporaries so guests could stay at partnering hotels too. Kaname Inn has set up a funding page on Campfire to help financially support these efforts. Drink vouchers, accommodation, and promotional packages for businesses are all available.