Tropical weather, green coastlines merging with active volcanic peaks, welcoming locals, and dense history are just a few things that draw travelers to Fukuoka, Japan. It is the largest city in Kyushu, Japan’s main island in the southwest, and it continues to grow. While Fukuoka may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning to volunteer abroad, it is the perfect location for volunteers to make a difference off the beaten path. Instead of just Fukuoka sightseeing, volunteer abroad in this Eastern society, where you’ll fall in love with the people and their old traditions as you help the community thrive.
What You Need to Know About Volunteering Abroad in Fukuoka
While it may not be as popular to volunteer abroad in first world countries or Eastern societies, Fukuoka may be the perfect location for volunteers who want to volunteer off the tourist track. Not only does the city continue to seek improvement, but Fukuoka has also recently been voted one of the easiest cities to live in the world! This means you’ll find an excellent multicultural metropolis to call home while contributing to a truly unique society.
Popular causes in Fukuoka. Volunteers abroad in Fukuoka have many placement options, from art preservation and environmental research to elderly care and historic conservation, and everything in between. Some volunteer placements in Fukuoka are unique to Japan, as the culture and philosophies create distinct industries. Join WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where you can cultivate shiitake mushrooms or produce wine, lend a hand in environmental conservation, or find placements in education and elderly care.
Short-term volunteer programs in Fukuoka. When you volunteer in Fukuoka, you can find placements as short as two or three weeks. Normally, short term programs are harder to come by in Japan, but if you have the time to do your research, the perfect program awaits. Stay with a host family and soak in the Japanese traditions for a summer holiday or career break.
Long-term volunteer programs in Fukuoka. Long term volunteer placements are always encouraged to maximize your impact as a volunteer, especially when volunteering abroad. Everything is new when you travel abroad: the language, work, and culture. Choose a longer placement so you have time to adjust to a new lifestyle and get to know and appreciate the culture. Stay for three months or three years – the longer the better!
Life Abroad in Fukuoka, Japan for International Volunteers
Fukuoka was created when two former towns, the west bank of Naka-gawa and the east bank of Hakata, merged in 1889. Today the city of Fukuoka features contrasts of new and old Japan, with ancient temples and Zen gardens beside modern technology and architecture. Slowly the city has grown to be one of the top destinations in Japan, and it will be a gateway to the rest of Asia for volunteers abroad.
Volunteers abroad in Fukuoka will never be bored in this sunny city. Spend your free time visiting nearby hot springs, partying at festivals or izakayas (traditional bars), and engaging your creative side with pottery classes and noodle workshops. Go shopping in the charming older districts when buskers and kimono artists line the streets, but be prepared for steep prices. In general, Japan can be a fairly expensive destination, comparable to costs in the United States. As a volunteer in Fukuoka, you can save money by staying in homestays with local families, taking public transportation, and eating at yatai stalls that feature five star meals at cheap prices.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for Volunteers in Fukuoka, Japan
As with any travel abroad, volunteers in Fukuoka will undoubtedly feel the cultural differences from the moment of arrival. Sometimes these are unexpected; after all, Japan is modernized and comfortable, unlike many other volunteer abroad destinations. You’ll never run out of clean water or fresh veggies, but you’ll experience a different type of first world country that blends eastern and western culture. Usually these cultural differences between Japanese and non-Japanese make it difficult to enter into local social circles, so long-term volunteers should be aware that most of the friends they will make will be with other international travelers.
Keep in mind that the key to blending into Japanese culture as a volunteer in Fukuoka is communication. Formality and cleanliness are found in everyday life, and it’s important for volunteers to be respectful of these values. Do your research, reciprocate and mirror hospitality. If all else fails, be gentle and reserved, and don’t be surprised if bowing becomes your new greeting.
Volunteering abroad in Fukuoka will be an experience like no other. The blend of eastern and western cultures will surprise you, so take your time to settle in and admire the Japanese lifestyle and traditions. With beautiful weather, delicious food, and unique placement options, there’s no doubt volunteers will find a way to create change in themselves and a new community.
Don’t forget to read our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in Japan.