by

There hasn’t been a lot of good news coming out of Japan lately (though I’d say a big part of that is news agencies trying to shock audiences as much as possible so they can make more $$$). At this point, sure, the nuclear reactors are kind of a problem (though time will only tell), but the real issue is the hundreds of thousands of people that are displaced, homeless, cold, cut off, or without food (i.e. people are going to start starving soon). While you probably can’t do much to help with the nuclear reactor thing, you can do something to help the people… After all, it’s the people who need the most help anyways. If something like this happened to you, you’d surely want to be helped as well.

Ways You Can Help

There are tons of ways you can help that do involve your hard earned cash. I’m sure they’re pretty good. I’ve donated myself. The more I read, though, the more it seems as though relief organizations are “over funded” (i.e., they have more money than they know what to do with, and the money you’re donating isn’t doing anything… and eventually will probably make it to some other country, which is good too, I suppose).

I think donating money to help is good – and I think that donating money will have more affect in the next week or so (when we can finally see who and what needs the most financial support), but right now it just doesn’t seem like funding disaster relief will help very much right now.

That being said, if you’d like to donate anyways, that’s great. Just be sure you don’t earmark your donations (so that they can be used in other places of need as well). Japan is printing off loads of money… money isn’t the issue. Red Cross and other big relief organizations will surely help and play a role in repairing Japan, but if you tell them you only want your money spent on Japan, it’ll probably end up being inefficiently used (like I said, there’s plenty of money already).

NihongoUp, JapanTimes, and so many other list off many more ways to donate. The most important thing is that you make sure your donated funds aren’t earmarked. I’d recommend Doctor’s Without Borders (as does that above article), but anything you donate will probably eventually help someone, and that’s good.

In the meantime, though, there are other ways you can help.

Buy TextFugu (And Donate 110% Of Your Payment)

If you were going to donate some money anyways, here’s an offer for you.

Before you go all crazy saying “omgwtfbbq he’s trying to make money off a disaster” – please keep reading.

Over the next 5ish days or so (we’ll see how long I can afford this), 110% of every dollar spent on TextFugu will be donated to disaster relief in Japan (more on who the donations go to in a minute).

Here’s my thinking on this: At first, I was going to donate part of the revenues, but then I realized that would just make it seem like I wanted your money, hoping more people would sign up to make up for the difference. So then I thought… okay, how about 100% of the revenues? I probably can’t afford to do this for a really long time, but even if sign ups stay the same, then at least I’m donating a good chunk of money to Japan. If sign-ups go up, then I’d be able to donate a bigger chunk of money to Japan. Then I realized that even though technically this is money I’m donating, it feels like you’re donating and I’m doing nothing, so I want to throw some of my own personal dollars (or more of them) into the mix. So I thought, why not donate 110% of revenues instead?

So, before you get in a tizzy, know that I’m donating extra money for every sign-up on TextFugu.

So here’s the deal. As long as you see a big green message on the homepage / pricing page of TextFugu saying I’m doing this, I’ll still be doing this. In about a week, I’ll probably take it down (and let you know how it went, of course). If you don’t see this big green message on the homepage, 110% of your payment probably isn’t going to disaster relief. So, if you’re interested in TextFugu (or want to give it to a friend, or something) you should do it now. Otherwise, go donate money directly, because that’s cool too.

I don’t know who / where the donation will go to yet. I’m thinking I’ll spend the next week researching smaller organizations that will have big impact. I want to donate to someone who will deliver the most help for the dollar, if you catch my drift. I don’t think that organization will be Red Cross or something like that… It might end up being that, and if it does, of course the donation won’t be earmarked only for Japan, but I’m hoping I can find an organization that has a lot of impact.

Other Japan/Japanese related companies trying to help the relief effort include NihongoUp (50% of revenue), Flutterscape (matching donations up to $3,000), CrunchyRoll (matching donations up to $5,000), jlist (5% of orders up to $10,000) and… (let me know if there’s others in the comments below, please!).

Give Blood

If you’re in Japan, now’s probably a good time to give blood. It doesn’t cost you anything, and there’s going to be a ton of people who need it. If you click on the map above, you can find places around Tokyo to give blood, though I imagine there are many other local areas all around Japan that will be accepting your vampire food. Rules for giving blood in Japan are pretty strict, though, so make sure you take a look at this before donating.

Giving blood definitely saves lives, and will probably be one of the nicest things you can do right now (and you should keep doing it, because giving blood is awesome, and you get cookies).

Volunteer

I’m not sure what’s needed at the moment, but if you’re in Japan, and want to help, you can try to join one of the volunteer efforts that are starting to come underway. It’s divided into areas, so you’ll have to call each government individually to see (non-Japanese language support is probably limited).

Sendai (Miyagi) – 022-262-7294

Iwate – 019-637-9711

Fukushima – 024-523-1254

There’s more information on volunteering on Hikosaemon’s blog.

Send Socks & Support Letters

It’s friggin’ cold in the Sendai area (where the earthquake hit). Disasters like this are also psychologically damaging. Socks and letters will help both of these things.

Jason Kelly is fairly close to the “disaster area” though far enough away to still get mail. If you send him socks, he’ll make sure people get them. If you send “support letters” with the socks, people will get them too.

It also looks like “HopeLetters” is doing an electronic version of the support letter. Check out HopeLetters to send something to relief workers or students.

Nothing like a little letter to make someone feel a little bit better. It’s those human touches that make lives improve.

Don’t Panic

The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is panic. I almost feel like foreign media is panicking more than the people actually affected by the earthquake (actually, I’m pretty sure this is the case). While the situation is terrible, and lots of people are suffering, it doesn’t help to make up stories (though this one was kind of funny), spread rumors, and act off of unreliable information. It’s pretty safe to assume that whatever any not-from-Japan media news source (Tofugu included, by the way) probably doesn’t actually know what they are talking about when it comes to nuclear reactors and earthquakes and things like that. CNN, Fox, whatever… they often don’t know what they’re talking about, and love to blow things out of proportion. Don’t let them scare you, and don’t let them scare others. Sure, the areas affected by the quake suck in a lot of ways, but Big News Media is going crazy, as they always do. Whatever they can do to get viewers and make as much money as possible (*ahem* remember Charlie Sheen?).

So, don’t panic, and just do what you can to help. Accurate information will get to you eventually—it’s not worth spreading rumors, making things worse.

That being said, Tofugu won’t really cover too much about the quake. If I do, it’ll either be focused on helping or be some sort of positive quake-related news story. If you want to see everything else, you don’t have to look far.

Stay Positive

Okay, I don’t know if this actually helps, but I think it does. Stay positive, everyone! Things will get better (especially if everyone chips in to help), and Japan will end up a stronger country because of it (and so will its friends an allies, who are helping out).

So, be happy, even in difficult times. Happiness, kindness, and sharing will be the thing that makes this situation better, so you might as well start now.

Over the next week, I imagine we’ll see how things play out, and then figure out the most effective way to help real people in real need. When that happens, I hope you give and help as much as you possibly can!

Any other ways to help folks out without donating money? Let me know, and I’ll add the good ones into the article. Thanks!

P.S. Donating money is good. It helps people. You should do it anyways.

  • Masaru Kaito

    -goes to buy textfugu-

  • http://twitter.com/jyuichi jyuichi

    Since you are looking into charities, may I suggest Direct Relief International? They have a long history of being extraordinarily efficient (and this is why you’ve never heard of them). Because of a kind benefactor, they do not use any donated funds on overhead costs (fundraiser/salaries).100% money donated to their Japan relief fund will be used in Japan. (Unlike certain larger organizations that re-purpose donations as they see fit)

    (FYI – I do/have not ever worked for them. This is just my own choice)

  • t0asterb0t

    Ah, too bad I just bought TextFugu a few weeks ago. The extra time has been worth it, though :)

  • t0asterb0t

    Ah, too bad I just bought TextFugu a few weeks ago. The extra time has been worth it, though :)

  • Ucif

    hope all people are ok safe .. you are far from us but you are in our prayer all day long and every time i go to sleep i pray god save japan

  • Ucif

    All Algerian People pray god to save Japan ! amen

  • Anonymous

    Crunchy roll is matching donations up to $5k http://www.crunchyroll.com/deals/japan-earthquake-donation-fund-391

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    thanks! added in.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    I’ve heard good things about them too – though I’d recommend not donating to a Japan relief fund, and donate to their “where help is needed most” fund (if they have that). Japan doesn’t really need money at the moment (though they may eventually, so keep an eye out) – if you don’t donate to the Japan relief, money will go to where it’s needed, whereas when there’s a big surplus of money earmarked for one place, things get inefficient and money is spent on things that aren’t really needed.

    But yea, I like DRI too! Good charity, it seems.

  • Mmts16

    I work with preschool children who want to make cards for the other children in Japan. Where can I send them?

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Good question… Other than sock guy, I’m asking around and will see what I can come up with (and will let you know).

    Sounds like a great idea, what you’re doing, though!

  • Guest

    http://hopeletters.wordpress.com/ I think this might help.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    Here’s one response I’ve gotten: http://hopeletters.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    hmm, though this is looking like it’s mostly electronic, I’m guessing that’s not what you’re looking for…

  • http://www.survivingnjapan.com/ Ashley

    Second Harvest Japan is currently accepting donations for food/toiletries/other items (not clothes though). Jhelp is also accepting donations for certain food/toiletries/baby products. You can check both websites for more specific info. (Though these are mostly practical if you’re currently living in Japan).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754540134 Allison Oldford

    If I wasn’t already a member, I would totally buy it now..

    J-list is donating 5% of sales right now. I wish it were a bit more..

  • Anonymous

    Awesome post! Great links and I really applaud what you’re doing with TextFugu! Gonna buy a copy for my sister. Thanks, man.

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  • constanze

    First I wanted to say that I admire your TextFugu offer, it is very selfless. I’m sure a lot of people who were undecided beforehand will now take this chance to enroll themselves AND donate. (It’s a win-win-situation).

    However, your caption left me somewhat puzzled. I suppose that the vast majority of your readers, including myself, is currently not in Japan. This makes it impossible for us to volunteer or give blood, as you suggested (I wish I could!). And it’s exactly this feeling of beeing unable to help, that drives people to donate (or write support letters/draw pictures, they are all over the internet by now). I also read that it currently might be difficult to send packages with goods from overseas, because the delivery would take weeks (as of now a lot of european airlines cancelled flights heading to Japan). That’s why donations seem to be the instantaneous way to help at the moment.

    Because of the overwhelming support for human relief organisations I decided to donate to an effort called Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS). They are updating their FB-Group several times a day with first-hand accounts from Sendai-area: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Japan-Earthquake-Animal-Rescue-and-Support/207835229228979 . Reading a page like this: http://ameblo.jp/japandisasteranimals – really upsets me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deidra.benson Deidra Benson

    I haven’t had much time to thoroughly look it over yet today.
    But what about this: http://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=39703&showpage=1

    Being that there are so many right now with nowhere to turn and they are cold and hungry, I would imagining that opening up your homes would be helpful. Not sure how helpful it would be if you live outside of Japan (although there seems to be many people opening up outside anyway, I’m just not sure how they plan to get the people in need from Japan to their country, kwim?), but still seems pretty helpful

  • Dunleavyellen

    Is it possible to mail things via USPS to Japan now? Heard a rumor that FedEx is not delivering there anymore.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    USPS should work, though some areas in Japan aren’t accepting mail at the
    moment.

  • http://twitter.com/RubberxD RubberxD

    bought textfugu, how can i not? thanks koichi i wish the very best to the people of japan. thanks for your donations.

  • http://twitter.com/ToshioTV ToshioTV

    I’ve always liked your blog, but was never courageous enough to join textfugu, but now I have absolutely no excuse not to. Got the fory/evy sub (feel a little guilty cause it’s such a good offer actually (*μ_μ), thank you). I’m counting on you to spend it wisely! (-_・)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001965332023 Shane Mousseau

    wow, good thing i waited to sign up for textfugu! wish i could do anything more to help, but thats life, ya gotta give what you can :/

  • http://twitter.com/fembassist Jenny

    I can give blood! Does the Red Cross here have a bilingual brochure to make sure that I can give? The nearest center to me is Tachikawa. My blood type is A+ :)

  • Almost Monday

    Koichi,
    That is very nice of you! Have you checked out Mercy Corp? They are here in Portland and are partnering with Peace Winds in Japan.
    I will be sending socks and letters as well!

  • http://twitter.com/Kelovar Kelovar

    I’m proud to be part of the Textfugu community ^^ This is a great initiative, Koichi ^^

    Fun fact: I saw your twitter reply concerning bounty (when you said you agreed to my suggestion and had changed bounties donations), then I went off to the website to check it out. I was O_O when I saw the green box. For a moment I was like “Is it… because of my suggestion? o.o”, then I realized it probably happened a bit later, and you certainly had planned that way before my bounty suggestion lol

    Still, I twitted about it, and posted it on my (guild) forum. I don’t know many charities, but I’m glad to see you’re looking at different possibilities instead of simply giving everything to the most “popular” one.

  • Hope Letters

    You can send support letters to Hope Letters at http://hopeletters.wordpress.com. Your message will be translated by one of 12 volunteer translators, and the messages will be broadcasted to Japan. Hope Letters reached an evacuation centre in Oishida, Yamagata, which is receiving evacuees from Fukushima. Facebook page has daily status updates. Schools and groups can also send in group letters.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve just seen how they are explaining the nuclear problem to young kids – via anime!
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/cartoon-explaining-the-fukushima-nuclear-reactor-problem-to-kids/

  • Lena

    Since I’m in Japan at the moment, I plan on sending boxes to Second Harvest Japan, who has trucks of supplies going up to Sendai to provide relief. Perhaps that could be included in the list? :)

  • http://twitter.com/ichigoichielove Lisa W

    Ahhhhhhhhh it’s so nice to see a *sensible* post finally. Thank you and good luck with your efforts with donations etc! Trying to do my part here too. ^^)b

  • http://twitter.com/mikotoneko Mikoto Neko

    Honestly, I think one of the best way to help Japan is to keep buying their goods, save money and visit them when things cool down, and what not, because really, they’re going to have a hard time with their economy as it is, and having income come in from tourism and such will help keep business alive, and keep people with jobs, and so much more. Don’t underestimate the power you hold by purchasing books and such from Japan! (A Japanese friend told me this. She said not to worry about donating anything, but rather save my money, visit or buy goods)

  • http://twitter.com/xharmony harmony

    I think you’re right, that our media is creating too much panic…I think it is because nuclear energy is under such heavy political debate here in America and in Europe right now. It’s unfortunate and I think some are hearing how panicked our news outlets are, and are becoming more frightened. So I agree it is most important we remain strong and supportive for our friends in Japan, and stay positive. For those of us who cannot donate or give blood, etc, we can still provide moral support. The animal rescue project someone posted above was also a great idea. A lot of people who evacuated were not able to bring their pets…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Samantha-Mercado-Saballos/665700105 Samantha Mercado-Saballos

    can we also send mittens and scarfs or does it ONLY have to be socks :/
    I’m in Latin America so I have a lot of winter clothes I don’t need anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Michi79kw Michi Kunugi-Wang

    I just discovered that the Japanese Groupon is taking donations and they are matching them Yen for Yen. I’m not sure if we can donate US Dollars. Might be worth looking into. My Kanji reading level is still not that good so not sure about the specifics and sometimes Google translate gets stuff a little mixed up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Josh-Friend/97800236 Josh Friend

    Great article! I live in Tochigi next to Fukushima and it is great that Koichi is putting out accurate and helpful information. I know Japanese people have mentioned how happy they are about all the people from around the world wanting to help.

  • Barbpj

    Here’s another place to donate. This fellow, Mark Gardener has been living in Japan and reporting on Koi news for the English speaking community for years, and he felt a personal need to do something. So this is what he’s proposing to do. Btw, he’s very respected in the Koi keeping hobby, and has bee for year’s so he won’t just go off with the money.
    Anyway, you can read more here.

    http://www.niigata-nishikigoi.com/blog/1

  • Manabu

    日本赤十字社(Japanese Red Cross Society)の東北関東大震災義援金の専用口座に寄付すれば、その寄付金は全額各自治体が主体となって構成される義援金配分委員会という委員会に送金され、その後、同委員会で立てられた配分計画に基づいて、東北・関東地方の被災者の方々へ届けられます。(ソース:http://www.jrc.or.jp/contribution/l3/Vcms3_00002069.html)
    よって、コウイチさんがこのブログで指摘されているような、寄付したお金が、今回の大規模災害の被災地である日本の東北・関東地方以外の地域に行ってしまうということはありません。
    ですから、日本赤十字社に寄付することは、被災者の方々を支援する有効な手段の一つです。

  • Anonymous

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  • KyleW

    Is there anyway or upcoming opportunities for foreign volunteers to come and help? I was planning on volunteering somewhere in the world anyway, but Japan really needs it now and I’m always studying Japanese.

  • Mac @ JLPT Boot Camp

    If you are in Japan, I’ve heard that they have all the blood they need for now. So please save your blood for when they need it in a few weeks, because blood has an expiration date (go figure). So keep your blood warm for now.

    Great article Koichi! Linked to it from my blog and in my newsletter.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    I’m not sure if they do at the moment (I think limited foreign support is
    going in), but I imagine that will change in the coming days, weeks, months,
    etc. Keep an eye ou!

  • http://twitter.com/ToshioTV ToshioTV

    I just found this site from a group called tokyohackerspace http://www.tokyohackerspace.org/ which have some plans to make solar powered LED lanterns to distribute to the zones where there is no light at night, community sensors for better alert-communication, and some other stuff (it’s all explained on the website). To achieve this, they are accepting donations (and of course volunteers that can do this kind of electrical/technical stuff, or people that can provide materials needed for building these devices).
    Although also limited, it’s an option I wanted to mention.

  • Barbpj

    Here is an update on the relief mission talked about in the above link. Every bit helps!

    http://www.niigata-nishikigoi.com/node/1142

  • Barbpj

    Here’s what happened today. Evacuees’s of the Tsunami.

    http://www.niigata-nishikigoi.com/node/1144#comments

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