Otonari-san Family Friend Program (OFP)

What is “Otonari-san Family Friend Program (OFP)”?

“Otonari-san Family Friend Program” is a communication-based support program where you will be paired up with Otonari-san (a Japanese volunteer), who live in the nearby neighborhood. Otonari-san will support you adapt to your life in Japan, help you learn more about your local community, the Japanese culture and customs through one-on-one interaction.

If you would like to volunteer as Otonari-san,click here.

Aren’t you struggling with something like these?

Enjoy your life in Japan more!

Benefits of Participating in
the Otonari-san Family Friend Program(OFP)

You Will Get a Better Understanding of Japan

Japan has a unique lifestyle, customs, and structure of society. Otonari-san has long years of experience living in Japan. If you have any questions or would like to know more about Japanese daily customs, or if you want to understand more about the Japanese culture, your Otonari-san can answer your questions.

Your Japanese Will Improve

Your Otonari-san can teach you daily conversational Japanese and will be your partner to practice Japanese. If you have someone you can casually practice speaking it with, your Japanese will improve progressively.

You Can Make Local Japanese Friends

Your Otonari-san will be your supporter and good friend. Getting acquainted with a local Japanese friend outside of your school or workplace will open new doors for you and lead you to new possibilities.

Your Children Can Also Make Local Japanese Friends

Your family may spend time doing fun activities with your Otonari-san’s family, such as going out or playing at a park together, so that your children can also make local Japanese friends.

You Can Casually Consult With Otonari-san About Your Daily Life

When you live in a foreign country, you may find it difficult to meet someone you can casually consult with about your daily life. Small problems could cause you great stress if they pile up- for example, you want advice on a good clinic or which bank to go to or you want to ask someone about your children’s schools, but you don’t know who to consult. Your Otonari-san will be the go-to person who can give you advice or answer any questions you may have about your daily life in Japan.

You Can Learn More About the Local Community

The fastest way to adapt to your new life is to familiarize yourself with the local community. Your Otonari-san will be someone who lives in the same or a nearby area. He/she can tell you about places that only the locals know about, a trustable local clinic, or events hosted by the local community, etc.

Other merits in joining JII
You can also consult with experts such as doctors, lawyers, judicial scriveners, public health nurses, interpreters, and teachers.
We hold Japanese language workshops and meetup events.

It’s one of the programs I can trust. I was able to find the perfect Otonari-san for me and I always enjoy interacting with her.
<Office worker, living in Japan for six years>

When I was pregnant, my Otonari-san went to the “Maternity and Baby Festival” with me. 
<Family stay, living in Japan for a year>

When I was looking for a book written in easy Japanese, I didn’t know which one to choose. My Otonari-san helped me find a good one.   
<Office worker, living in Japan for a year>

When I didn’t know if I could eat some food in the lunch box due to my religion, my Otonari-san told me what it was, which helped me a lot. 
<Graduate student, living in Japan for a year>

It’s a lot of fun to introduce each other’s culture with my Otonari-san! He kindly teaches me about life in Japan and the language, which made my life so much easier! 
<Office worker, living in Japan for seven years>

My Otonari-san speaks Japanese slowly for me, so it’s very easy to talk with her. 
 <Office worker, living in Japan for a year>

I can get information on recommended stores and sightseeing spots that can’t be found on the Internet. 
<Technical school student, living in Japan for two years>

We have a lot of fun shopping for clothes and going out to eat together. 
<Japanese school student, living in Japan for a year>

Why don’t you join the OFP?

“Otonari-san Family Friend Program” is a communication-based support program where you will be paired up with Otonari-san (a Japanese volunteer), who live in the nearby neighborhood. Otonari-san will support you adapt to your life in Japan, help you learn more about your local community, the Japanese culture and customs through one-on-one interaction.

How to Participate in the Program

Why don’t you try to find the right “Otonari-san” for you?

Application is free
Receive instructions about the briefing session *participation is mandatory

Briefing session participation is free
Those who wish to participate following the session will formally register (registration fee: 1000¥/person)
You’re able to join OFP activities after registration.

We introduce a candidate partner based on your registered information
After the interview the pair is created based on mutual agreement
The membership fee is paid after the pair is created (membership fee: 3,000¥/person)

The pair meets during the 6 months
The coordinators give support throughout
If necessary, support from professionals is also available

OFP isn’t just about meeting foreigners.
We meticulously match partners based on their needs to more easily create excellent, long-lasting connections.
This leads to about 90%* of our partners expressing the hope to have ongoing partner exchanges even after ending their participation with us.
*Based on our exit survey responses

Participation requirements
・Living in Japan  (Tokyo and surrounding areas)
・Up to 8 years of living in Japan

registration fee 1,000JPY / One time only

The application process and informational sessions are free of charge.

However, a registration fee will be applicable when formally registering.

Following registration, you will have access to participate in activities exclusive to members.

Membership Fee
3,000 JPY / Pair(6Months)
Method of payment : Credit card, Bank transfer, PayPay

【Reduction or Exemption System】

・The reduction or exemption system is established to prevent instances where individuals refrain from participating in activities due to financial constraints.

• Registration and membership fees may be reduced or waived by JII at their discretion for participants who meet the criteria set by JII, based on their individual circumstances. To request the reduction or exemption, participants must make the application either during the initial registration process or during the interview with JII.

< Example of Fee Reduction or Exemption Cases> – ・For individuals who have been displaced and their family members: Registration and participation fees are waived.

– In cases of significant financial hardship resulting from disability, illness, single-parent households, tax-exempt households, unstable employment,or similar circumstances: Registration will be waived, and the membership fee will be reduced by 50%.

– For students who are burdened with tuition fees, such as those on scholarships: 50% discount on both the registration and membership fees.

– In other cases where reasonable consideration is required.

If you would like to volunteer as Otonari-san,click here.

Have Fun Interacting With Your Otonari-san While Following the Rules

You cannot ask Otonari-san to do anything that will impose labor or burden on them. For example, you cannot ask Otonari-san to:

・Assist with household matters
・Assist with child care, pet care
・Provide financial support
・Prepare and clean up meals
・Run errands (e.g. grocery shopping, go to the bank or the post office, etc.)
・Provide housing

These kind of Otonari-san are waiting for you!

I’m studying International relations at my university. I joined this program because I’m interested in how foreigners can fit in and be accepted by the Japanese society.

By interacting with foreigners as a family, I want my children to experience that there are many different values and that there aren’t only Japanese-speaking people in the world.

When I was living abroad, local people taught me many things that helped me a lot, so now I’d like to do something for foreigners living in Japan. Knowing the differences in culture and customs will make them feel a little more at ease, and I think it will make their lives easier.

Even if I know the Japanese language, I feel like my heart’s about to break off when I’m sick. It’s even more so if you don’t know anyone and don’t understand the language. It’d be reassuring to have someone you can ask which hospital you should go to when you’re sick.

I was very disappointed to learn that some of my foreign acquaintances returned to their home countries without making any friends while living in Japan. Since foreigners have come all the way here, I want them to experience the moments that make them feel happy that they came to Japan.

I like learning about foreign cultures and different values. I want us to become friends who can introduce each other’s culture and have a good time together.

If you would like to volunteer as Otonari-san,click here.

Otonari-san Family Friend Program is supported by The Toyota Foundation’s 2019 Community Grant Program