Ashinaga is a Japanese foundation headquartered in Tokyo. We provide financial support and emotional care to young people around the world who have lost either one or both parents. With a history of more than 55 years, our support has enabled more than 110,000 orphaned students to gain access to higher education.
From 2001, we expanded our activities internationally, with our first office abroad in Uganda. Since then, we have established new offices in Senegal, the US, Brazil, the UK, and France to support the Ashinaga Africa Initiative.
The Ashinaga movement began after President and Founder, Yoshiomi Tamai's mother was hit by a car in 1963, putting her in a coma, and she passed away soon after. Tamai and a group of likeminded individuals went on to found the Association for Traffic Accident Orphans in 1967. Through public advocacy, regular media coverage and the development of a street fundraising system, the association was able to set in motion significant improvements in national traffic regulations, as well as support for students bereaved by car accidents across Japan.
Over time, the Ashinaga movement extended its financial and emotional support to students who had lost their parents by other causes, including illness, natural disaster, and suicide. The Ashinaga-san system, which involved anonymous donations began in 1979. This was inspired by the Japanese translation of the 1912 Jean Webster novel Daddy-Long-Legs. In 1993, Ashinaga was expanded to include offering residential facilities to enable financially disadvantaged students to attend universities in the more expensive metropolitan areas. Around this time Ashinaga also expanded its summer programs, or tsudoi, at which Ashinaga students could share their experiences amongst peers who had also lost parents.
The 1995 Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake struck the Kobe area with a magnitude of 6.9, taking the lives of over 6,400 people and leaving approximately 650 children without parents. Aided by financial support from both Japan and abroad, Ashinaga established its first ever Rainbow House, a care facility for children to alleviate the resultant trauma.
March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan, causing a major tsunami, vast damage to the Tohoku region, and nearly 16,000 deaths. Thousands of children lost their parents as a result. Ashinaga responded immediately, establishing a regional office to aid those students who had lost parents in the catastrophe. With the assistance of donors from across the world, Ashinaga provided emergency grants of over $25,000 each to over 2,000 orphaned students, giving them immediate financial stability in the wake of their loss. Ashinaga also built Rainbow Houses in the hard-hit communities of Sendai City, Rikuzentakata, and Ishinomaki, providing ongoing support to heal the trauma inflicted by the disaster.
Over the past 55 years Ashinaga has raised over $1 billion (USD) to enable about 110,000 orphaned students to access higher education in Japan.