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.




Do you ever have any concerns like these?


Enjoy your life in Japan more!

“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.




Benefits of Participating in the Otonari-san Family Friend Program

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 Benefits

You will have access to our network of experts from whom you can receive consultation.
We also host events and workshops designed for foreign residents.

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

Meet Some of Our Otonari-san

I’m interested in learning about various cultures and as the world becomes more globalized, I’d like to interact with foreigners living in Japan.

Person Y / Working mother with 4 children

When I lived abroad for a few years, the local residents really supported me to adapt to my life there. I want to do the same for the foreign residents new to living in Japan.

Person F / Former Japanese teacher who has finished raising children

I’ve lived abroad as an expat for a long time and I really enjoy interacting with people of different cultures. I have a busy schedule, but I’d like to offer my support to the program as much as I can.

Person T / Business consultant

I would be very interested in giving and sharing my lifetime experience with the participants and other volunteers through the program.

Person K / Housewife

I love communicating with people of different cultures. I hope that foreigners become even more interested in Japan.

Person W / Freelancer

An increasing number of foreigners are becoming my clients and I want to help in a more direct way. I really enjoy working with them.

Person J / Real estate industry

Come Find Your Otonari-san (How to Participate in the Program)

Procedures on How to Participate

Participation Fee 1,500 JPY per year (membership will be renewed every April)

Becoming an Otonari-san (Volunteer)

Approximately 3 million foreign nationals currently live in Japan. It is estimated that an additional 170 thousand foreigners will be moving to Japan every year (estimate as of 2020).

One of the issues that Japan faces today is finding appropriate ways to accept such new residents into the Japanese society. Foreign residents will need to adapt to the Japanese society by understanding the its culture and daily customs; in turn, the Japanese people should strive to deepen their understanding of foreign residents, respect their culture, and accept them as a member of their society.

It is with the hopes of realizing a diverse society, which includes embracing foreign residents, that JII established the Otonari-san Family Friend Program.

Requirements to Become a Volunteer
・You must reside in Japan
・You must be willing to support and interact with foreign residents

Duties as Otonari-san
【Interact with Foreign Residents】
Interact with and support foreign residents in the following ways:
・Provide information on Japanese customs, culture and society
・Offer opportunities to practice Japanese
・Provide information on the local life and events that takes place in the local community
・Enjoy spending time with the foreign resident by doing activities together
・Serve as a friend and offer provide moral support

【Follow-up with JII】
・Share details of volunteer activities with JII on a regular basis (once a month)
・Actively participate in training and meeting with JII staff

How to Participate in the Program as a Volunteer

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