Socks for Japan 日本語

Jason’s speech  Jason’s two-year remembrance op-ed

Socks for Japan is no longer active, but we keep this site the way it appeared during our operation so that survivors, donors, and volunteers can look back at how the world helped us help Japan. We are so grateful.

Letters from Survivors | Letters to Survivors | Volunteer | Email List

Here’s a way you can help Japan, directly and meaningfully. There are many places to donate money, and that’s a wonderful thing to do, but direct aid is cherished by survivors because it shows them that you personally care. My office location is perfect for a direct-aid operation — close enough to the damage zone that we can physically get there to help, but far enough that mail delivery is working.


  • Send only new socks. All human beings are comforted by a fresh, clean pair of socks. Other advantages socks offer this operation: they’re light, their sizes are easy, they don’t break, people need lots of them in disastrous times away from home, and people can keep them forever to remember that somebody from far away cared. Please do not send any other items of clothing, food, etc. Just socks, but go ahead and choose nice ones that will brighten somebody’s day. You might receive a discount by showing our letter to your local store manager.
  • Put each pair in a sealed plastic bag. Want your socks to find needy feet asap? So do we! Please speed up our processing by taking socks out of bulk packaging, removing clasps or ties binding them together, and putting each pair in its own sealed clear plastic bag. Waterproof bags, such as Ziploc brand, are useful to people without homes. They serve a dual purpose: delivering socks in good shape, and providing a way for people to keep items dry.
  • Enclose a care letter. Japanese people treasure letters, especially ones from foreigners. Survivors of the 1995 Hanshin quake in Kobe said that care letters were among the most uplifting items they received. So, please enclose a copy of your letter with each pair of socks in a plastic bag. For help composing and translating your letter, see our care letter creation page.

    Image of steps to a perfect package
  • Label, compress, and seal. You should now have a pair of socks and your care letter in each plastic bag. One more helpful item: a label. Either write on the outside of the bag or insert into each bag a piece of paper identifying one of these categories: man, woman, boy, girl, baby. (We no longer need any socks for children.) Once that’s done, squeeze out excess air to make the bag as small as possible, then seal it shut. This preparation will make our inventory management and distribution a cinch!
  • Write your email address noticeably on the package. The most efficient way for us to keep in touch with you, and track the status of your package once we receive it, is via your email address. Please write it on the outside of your package so we can communicate with you without opening the package.
  • Write “Urgent: Relief Supplies” boldly on the package. This will avoid import duties, guarantee priority handling at customs, and achieve rapid processing through hubs. Packages are arriving more quickly than usual. Everybody is dedicated to getting this nation back on its feet — in clean socks!

Please ship your package to my office:

Jason Kelly
Plaza Kei 101
Wakamatsu-cho 615-6
Sano, Tochigi 327-0846

EMAIL: PHONE: +81 501-014-7773

Thank you for your support! When your package arrives, we’ll send a note to you at the email address you wrote on it.



Several reasons. Many of the survivors ended up barefoot after fleeing in a hurry. In the disaster zone, feet get wet and then extra cold at night, especially in currently freezing weather. People often forget about socks in favor of more obvious items like blankets and jackets. Receiving a new, fresh pair of socks provides a moment of comfort. If those socks arrive with a caring note as well, it’s very heartening for survivors. If you’ve ever been stuck in a pair of wet, cold socks or no socks at all, perhaps you remember how soothing it felt to pull on a warm, dry pair. Survivors have already requested socks on TV news.

Socks aren’t primary support, but a token of care that will last beyond their small mid-crisis comfort. All supplies exist here in Japan, so we wanted something that delivered meaning past the need of the moment, something more special than what people get from emergency teams and government supplies. Military socks are not the most comfortable. Small joys matter. A March 17 CNN article observed about the survivors: “It was the little things that helped them retain their sanity as an end to crisis still seemed distant.” The next day, an AP story said a city hall worker reported his town needing “gas, vegetables, socks, underwear, wet wipes and anti-bacterial lotion.” Most importantly, shelters themselves are requesting socks.

Good ones! Demand is in this proportion: 50 percent women, 50 percent men. We no longer need any socks for children or babies. Everybody prefers color over white because white gets dirty quickly in shelters. Focus on quality, not quantity. The number of people donating takes care of quantity. Make your socks and letters count for the individual survivors receiving them. We’d much rather receive 50 gorgeous pairs of socks properly packaged one-pair-per-sealed-bag with a wonderful letter, than 500 pairs of low-quality, white socks completely unprepared without letters.

No. Despite the image created by ninja movies, most Japanese socks are of the regular variety. The split-toe, called tabi, is seen most commonly as a carpenter or construction worker boot, called jika-tabi. Regular socks are fine.

People love to see a photo of who sent their socks and letter, so include one if you can. A popular way is by printing your photo directly onto your letter. Another way is to print your photo and glue it to your letter, if it’s handwritten. For help with the message and translation, see our care letter creation page.

From the United States, the Postal Service is the most economical, and its one-week delivery time is fine for the extended operation under way. People are shipping every day, so we’re receiving a steady supply of new socks. There’s no need to pay extra to get yours here quickly. Japan’s country price group is 3. Packages sent via First-Class Mail International cost $10.76 for one pound, $17.64 for two, $24.52 for three, and $31.40 for four. One donor wrote: “Priority Mail flat-rate shipping is per box, so if you box each size and gender separately, you will be paying a LOT more than if you bag them separately and then put the bags into one box.”

From Jiun: “Airfreight cost is calculated by actual weight or dimensional weight (WxLxH/5000), which means the tighter you compress/pack your socks the cheaper they will be to send. Vacuum bags are the best way to compress socks. A 20cm x 20cm x 20cm box of socks might weigh only 2.2 lbs, but its dimensional weight is 3.5 lbs.”

Other tips: from Canada use the Canada Post calculator to find what’s best or try Greyhound and Takkyubin per Joanne’s suggestion, from China use eBay for free shipping, from Malaysia use FedEx or POS Malaysia, more to come


Then we’ll gratefully accept and put every penny toward taking socks and letters to survivors as quickly as possible. Please see our donation page.

Yes, but please read our volunteer info page.

Not unless you think I go through a lot of socks.

We already did. This concern is left over from when we first began, on March 13, just after the March 11 disaster. For fun, we’re leaving the answer here: Yes. We have plenty of people and plenty of space. We’re using my office, and borrowed a nearby vacant accounting office as well. Socks and letters are small. When taken out of boxes and put in compressible bags, socks can be packed into ordinary vehicles by the thousands. Here’s the accounting office, prior to our moving in:

Front of Yamaguchi accounting office

Want to witness the major transformation of that quiet office into our sock processing supercenter powered by volunteers? See Angels of the Earth.

In Phase I, we distributed twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays. In our current Phase II, we distribute less frequently and at a slower pace to spend time with survivors. You can see our schedule on the volunteer info page.

Yes. Even after we stop distributing socks, we’ll visit survivors and follow up with the ones featured in our reports. To stay informed, please join our list.


  1. esther
    Posted May 30, 2011 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Hi!Jason.I just posted 15 pairs of sock from Malaysia on 27 April.I wondered whether did the parcel has been safely received?I’m looking forward for your confirmation.thanks alot.=)

  2. Maryam Naddaf
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    We are a daycare centre in Burnaby, BC, Canada and we sent about 70 socks your way about a month ago along with notes and drawings from our children. We’re wondering if you’ve received our socks yet?
    thank you!

  3. Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I received a message today from a 6th grader in Miyagi who received one of the socks I sent yesterday. She used to live in Watari-Cho, Miyagi, which is right next to the sea. She says their house, which her father and grandfather built, is no longer there. She lives in her relative’s house right now. She lost her grandparents and her 13 year old cousin in tsunami.
    She said she received the socks at school. By the time I sent in my boxes, you have already asked to stop getting kids’ socks because most kids have moved out of shelters. I guess you guys are now having to go to schools to make sure all the socks for children will be distributed.
    I’m really grateful that you are making every effort to make each and every pair of socks count.
    I also received an email from you today saying you have received and distributed my box of socks.
    The amount of work you go through is unbelievable. I really can’t thank you enough for doing this. This was the very first message I received, and it made me feel SOOOOOOOOOO good!!
    Thank you!!!!

  4. Laura W.
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Okay so I have a bunch of socks and we had, had a drive before the sixteenth, but there were some packing issues that threw us off the deadline. Is there anyway I could send them to you? I could have them ready by June 25th to send. If not, could I send them in a few months or so. There are about 250 socks.

    • Posted July 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      No problem, Laura. We’re still accepting socks that were prepared ahead of time, so please ship them whenever you’d like. We’ll sort and prepare them for Phase II this autumn. Thank you for helping!

  5. Posted September 20, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Jason, I sent 1,241 pairs of socks in the Spring in 3 different boxes from my students at the high school I teach at (Tenoroc Sr., in Lakeland, FL), and haven’t heard back.. have you received them? We had 3 major news stations do a story along with the local papers, and hopefully that bought additional socks as well. If you could let me know, I’d be much obliged. :) Thanks!


    • Posted September 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Will do, Shing. We’re making our way through the last confirmations this week before Phase II cranks up.

      More soon,

  6. Claudia
    Posted September 24, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Hello Jason….
    I´m a professional knitter and only use high quality of (handdyed) yarn. Also i have some knitters around me who would love to knit for your project.
    If handmade socks are welcome, please let me know the sizes you need. I read in your post above that you only want socks for adults. We knit all sizes!!!
    We´d love to help again.
    Sunny greetings from bavaria

  7. Rebeca Reachi Lugo
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jason!,
    Hope you`re fine.
    I sent you from Mexico some socks, I had health problems…. but finally my boyfriend sent the box, did you got it? I dont know if my e mail was in the box. Please tell me.
    My best regards

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