Exploring Nature and Making a Change in Tokyo
Tokyo — a modern city lined with acres of magnificent glass and steel skyscrapers, neon lights that illuminate the evening sky, and the constant hustle of a city that never sleeps.
But who would have known that the Japanese metropolis is also an escape for nature lovers?
Ayako Yamamoto, the Changemakers Consul in Tokyo, decided to take this opportunity and came up with an exciting concept that showcases another side of this beautiful city. In her Changemakers Group, Ayako likes to combine hiking activities with collecting money for a good cause. In this way, group members can take a break away from the bustling city and step into a more serene environment, relishing in the rich nature that the city has to offer.
Hosting a Changemakers Activity can require quite a lot of organization: from finding the right organization to partner with, to picking a location to host the activity. This is when Ayako was struck by a brilliant idea — why not host her activities while hiking? This drastically cuts back on challenges like securing the right venues AND it is a great way to enjoy a good workout as well.
Ayako likes to choose easy hikes that are accessible to all. This allows people of all fitness levels to join her activities. “Hiking is fun,” she says, “and the donation is not high. While enjoying activities, we can also contribute something to our society.” This goes to show that you can make a difference with any small contribution you make — and why not have fun while doing so?
Ayako also prefers having a smaller group of attendees to ensure smooth communication among the participants. That ways, the members attending her activities can both professionally network and also have the opportunity to make friends and have a sociable time with other members.
By combining the two concepts of hiking and Changemakers Activities, Ayako wanted to show that it is not as difficult as people tend to think to host charity-related event. She does, however, recommend having a meeting beforehand. “It is crucial to be transparent about the organization you are supporting, what it stands for, whom the money being collect will help, and all the finer details of these activities,” she says.
Ayako keeps things fresh by working with different non-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) each time. However, it is important for her to choose socially relevant topics when working with these NPOs and NGOs. For example, in a case of a typhoon or earthquake in Japan, her activity would most likely be tailored to helping people who have been affected by these natural disasters.
Though the language barrier may be an issue at times, this is not something that stops her. She takes it as just another challenge to overcome and continues to inspire others to help give back to the community.
In addition to her hikes, Ayako also likes to switch things up once in a while. She has successfully launched other types of Changemakers Activities, like charity lunches and dinners, as well as more creative concepts like the Social Impact Nights or, more recently, a beach cleanup activity in Enoshima.
The Changemakers Group in Tokyo just celebrated its second anniversary this October, and we are looking forward to many lovely hikes, Social Impact Nights, and creative and thought-provoking activities to come!