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?


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.


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.

  • It’s so much fun to introduce each other’s culture with my Otonari-san.
  • I can get information on recommended stores and sightseeing spots that can’t be found on the Internet.
  • My Otonari-san kindly teaches me about the Japanese life and language.
  • My Otonari-san speaks Japanese slowly for me, so it’s very easy to talk.
  • 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.
  • When I was pregnant, my Otonari-san went to the “Maternity and Baby Festival” with me.
  • When I didn’t know if I could eat the food in the lunch box I bought, my Otonari-san told me what it was.
  • We have been practicing Japanese by watching movies and reading books in the language together.
  • We have a lot of fun shopping for clothes and going out to eat together.
  • 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.

How to Participate in the Program

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

Participation requirements
・Living in Japan 
・Up to 10 years of living in Japan
 (Tokyo and surrounding areas)

Membership Fee
・1,500 JPY per year
・Membership will be renewed every April

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