About Smile Kids Japan

1. And exactly who are you?

Good place to start – have a look at our About Us page and find out all about us!

2. I’m curious – how did you get started on this whole thing?

Mike’s the guy you want to talk to – have a look at his message about how and why he got involved.

3. This all sounds like a lot of effort – why should I bother?

This is such a great project; it’s hard to know where to even start with that question. Have a look at our home page and testimonials, we think you’ll be convinced.


Contacting Orphanages & Starting Visits

4. I’ve got in touch with the orphanage, and they seem a little confused about what I want to do…

This type of project perhaps isn’t as well known in Japan as it might be in other parts of the world. But don’t give up – use our Japanese cheat sheets to help you get your point across. Once your first visit has happened, you’ll all be on the same glorious page.

5. I don’t even know where to begin.

Don’t worry – that’s what this website is for. Take a deep breath and go to the Getting Started section and we’ll take it from there.

6. I’d love to do a visit , but I have no idea how to find an orphanage in my area.

This is your first big hurdle, but it’s not as hard as you think. You can find one by using your favorite search engine to search for 児童養護施設 (jidouyougoshisetsu), plus your town’s or city’s name.

7. What if I don’t speak Japanese?

We have provided you with some multi-lingual cheat sheets to help you get conversation started. Here you’ll find cheat sheets to help you set up the visit, and also to recruit volunteers.

8. Fine, you guys think it’s a good idea, but it’s your charity. Have you got any proof that it’s so cool?

Fair enough – don’t take our word for it. Read the experiences of some Fukui ALTs and let them convince you.

9. How many volunteers do I need?

However many your orphanage will allow and/or however many want to go! Any number of volunteers is great – have a look at our games section to give you ideas on activities to do with different sized groups.

10. So I’m setting up my own visit and using your guide – but so much of what I have to do is different to you!

While we’re trying to give you as much information as we can, the Fukui Orphanage visits are only a model – every situation is going to be different. The best thing is to take our advice and apply it to your personal situation, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any other questions.

11. There’s quite a big foreign population where I am – not just English, but also other nationalities like Chinese and Brazilian. Should I try and get them involved, or is this an English only thing?

This is in no way an ‘English only’ thing – this project is an opportunity for anyone to go out and volunteer, and also a great way to bring different parts of your community together. Why not use our multi-lingual cheat sheets for volunteers? These will give you a head-start in utilizing your whole community.

12. I’d love to get involved, but I don’t have a lot of time. How big a commitment is this?

We’re not going to lie – this is a big commitment, particularly in the beginning when you’re finding the orphanage and getting your volunteers together. But after a few visits, it’s like a well-oiled machine. Trust us – once you do your first visit, you’ll realize it’s worth a bit of commitment. Just follow our step by step How to guide and you’ll be fine.


The First Visit

13. My first visit is tomorrow and I’m terrified! What am I going to do?

Don’t worry! Just have a look here and this will give you all the help you need before that first visit.

14. Is there anything I should take with me on my visits?

When there are children involved, it’s always good to have a few props on hand. Why don’t you take an ‘Orphanage Survival Pack?’

15. I have never dealt with kids before. What on earth can I do with them?

Kids are kids – they all like games. We have lots of game and activity ideas for you right here.


Continuing Visits

16. I’m leaving Japan soon, but I don’t want my project to end! What should I do?

Well done for having set up a successful scheme organization you want to pass on! First, take a look at those great volunteers you’ve been using. Have a chat to one of them well before you go and point them in the direction of this website. Between us and all the information you can give them, they’ll be all ready to take over.

17. My volunteers keep dropping out at the last minute! I thought I had 12 volunteers – but now I have a visit tomorrow, and only three volunteers!

Calm down! Three volunteers are just fine – have a look at our Games section and the Orphanage Survival Bag and just choose the games suitable to your number of volunteers. Also, check out our ‘Keeping Up the Motivation’ section for keeping those pesky volunteers in line!

18. Some of the kids don’t look happy to see us – they look more terrified. Is it because I’m a bad volunteer?

Not at all. Remember the situation these kids are in here, and if you’re a foreigner, you may be one of the few they see. Keep up the visits and keep up the energy and fun! Soon, the kids will be so excited to see you – seeing the change come over the kids over the course of the visits is one of the best bits.

19. I’d love to get the Japanese community involved – got any ideas?

We certainly do! Have a look at our multi-lingual cheat sheets if you want to get some Japanese volunteers and check out our fund-raising ideas.

20. So, I’ve visited a few times and it’s been great, but I want to spice it up a bit. What else can I do to keep it interesting?

Have a gander at our Special Events section – we’ve got loads of ideas for those special visits.



21. Wow, this is a great project! I’d love to give you loads of cash!

That’s very nice of you and we’re glad you’re so excited about the charity. However, we don’t need your money – the orphanages do. If you would like to donate, please get in touch with your local orphanage or Smile Kids Japan volunteer team and see what they really need.

22. My visits are going really well, but I could do with some extra money for birthday presents and things. Can I get some off you?

Sorry, we’re not that kind of charity. Smile Kids Japan will not be receiving any donations to share with volunteer teams around the country. We encourage any potential donors who approach us to get in touch with their local Smile Kids Japan volunteer team or orphanage to donate directly.

If you’re looking for that extra bit of cash though, why not try and raise the money yourself? Have a look at our ‘Fundraising Ideas’ and give it a go.

23. What kind of press can I get? I really want to put the spotlight on what we’re doing in the community.

This will depend on your own situation, but we can give you lots of ideas on where to start. Here are some examples of the press that the Fukui volunteers have received, and have a gander at the ‘Raising Awareness’ section for some further tips and ideas.

24. Is there a way for me to get in touch with Smile Kids Japan volunteer teams around Japan?

Keep an eye on the Our Progress page  to see what areas have started visits to their local orphanage(s). Also keep an eye out in the future for a bulletin board and forum where groups from all over Japan can chat about their own experiences and exchange ideas.

25. I’d love to volunteer, but maybe not organise – how can I find out where the nearest Smile Kids Japan volunteer team is to me?

Good on you for volunteering! Check out the Our Progress page, to see if there’s a Smile Kids Japan volunteer team near you. If there’s not, have a look at ‘Getting Started’ – it’s not as hard as you think to set up with our step by step guide.

26. Can I teach the kids how to cook?

That really depends on your own situation, but it’s a great idea to keep things interesting. If you have the facilities, the cash and, most importantly, the permission, why not? Just make sure you’re organised, and keep it simple.