Second Harvest JapanFollowing the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, the Inside Japan Tours team and customers raised just under £38,000 for It's Not Just Mud and Civic Force Japan who were directly assisting the recovery effort. As these groups wound down their activities we selected a new charity to support: Second Harvest JapanWhat they doSecond Harvest Japan has been pioneering food banking in Japan since the year 2000. "Food for all people" is their motto. To make this possible, they are creating a food safety-net so anyone in need can access food.A food safety-net is quite common in other countries and cities. In the UK there are nearly 500 food banks and soup kitchens where people can get food. However, in the whole of Tokyo there are probably only 10-15 groups that provide food assistance throughout the week.Second Harvest Japan is working to change that picture. Each week they provide groceries to households in need as well as contributing food to welfare agencies, non-profits, and faith-based groups providing social services. They also provide hot meals once a week in Ueno Park. Second Harvest Japan responded to the Tohoku disaster in 2011, Typhoon Yolanda that devastated the central Philippines in 2013, and Kumamoto following the earthquake in 2016.
Why we support them
A key reasons we chose to support Second Harvest Japan is because, in addition to aid for the poor, they foster progress towards a more sustainable future by reducing food waste.
As a tour operator we are conscious of the impact we and our customers have on food waste in Japan. As anyone who has stayed in a traditional ryokan can attest, although the food is delicious, the portion sizes can be fairly overwhelming, so much often ends up going to waste.
This may be a small impact when taken as a part of the food wasted throughout Japan, which is thought to be around 17.8 million tonnes annually, but we are committed to doing what we can to compensate for this wastage.
What we've done
To kick off our fundraising for Second Harvest Japan, 12 members of our Bristol office completed the 13-mile Bath Half Marathon, raising £2,500.
Two members of staff also had a hands-on impact by volunteering to help out at their Harvest Kitchen in Ueno Park. When talking of her day with Second Harvest our senior travel consultant Ali said:
"It was a truly eye-opening and humbling experience. Initially it was fairly overwhelming to see the number of people who relied on the help of Second Harvest, but the whole operation was so well-run, and all the people I met were really friendly. My lasting memory of the experience was the amazing level of mutual respect between those volunteering at the kitchen, and those receiving support. My afternoon in Ueno Park has definitely inspired me to get involved with more voluntary work in the future."
What you can do
If you'd like to support Second Harvest Japan there are two things you can do:
You could join many of our other clients in making a donation via the link below; your money will support Second Harvest with the day-to-day running of their operations and allow them to help more people.
Or, if you've got a trip booked with us, or are currently planning one, it might be possible for us to arrange for you to spend an afternoon volunteering at their Harvest Kitchen in Ueno. If you'd like to do this please discuss it with your travel consultant, though please be aware that we can't always guarantee a slot for you to volunteer.
An example of one of our previous Charities
It's Not Just Mud (INJM)Our charity for 2012 was It's Not Just Mud (INJM). INJM began as a very grass-roots collection of ex-pats working alongside locals in the tsunami devastated town of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. Led by young Brit, Jamie El-Banna, the group has evolved to become a professional non-profit organisation with a long term vision to aid the rehabilitation of tsunami affected people and business in Ishinomaki.INJM's work involves a lot of hard labour: clearing sludge and debris from homes, repairing damaged buildings, unblocking waterways and restoring parks and gardens. The charity's name alludes to the fact that such simple tasks can mean an awful lots to the people of Ishinomaki who lost everything in the tsunami.
It's not all physical work; INJM volunteers work hard to offer psychological support to Ishinomaki citizens by organising community events, children's sports days and putting in hours at temporary housing shelters To find out more about INJM please have a look at their Facebook Page