Christmas book project for kids spreading in Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Some Christmas books

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A project to deliver donated books as Christmas gifts to children in a venerable situation, such as being sick or from families facing economic hardships, is drawing attention in Japan.

Under the “Book Santa” project, if people buy children’s books at partner bookstores across Japan and tell store clerks that they are for donations, the books will be delivered by volunteers dressed as Santa Claus and other figures to homes with and facilities for children in need of support.

With the motto of “anyone can become Santa Claus at a bookstore,” the project was launched by Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Charity Santa in 2017. The number of bookstores cooperating in the project has been increasing, and over 35,000 books were provided to children last year.

Saying that some families “feel saved by a single book,” an official of the organization called on more people to take part in the project. The organization will accept book donations until Saturday.

A total of 779 bookstores from the 47 prefectures of the nation are joining the 2022 project, which added children affected by typhoons and those who fled Ukraine to Japan following Russia’s invasion of their country to the list of book recipients.

“I’ve been thinking about doing something for Ukrainian evacuees,” Natsuki Kiyosuke, the 38-year-old head of Charity Santa, said.

Around 90 Ukrainian evacuees, including children, attended a Christmas party held by the Japanese branch of YMCA in Tokyo on Sunday.