How to donate old eyeglasses in Japan

Translation: Shouldn't you throw out those glasses?

My translation: Shouldn’t you throw out those glasses? I mean, “Woof!”

One of my frustrations has been trying to find a place in Japan to donate old eyeglasses. In the U.S. I dropped them off at one of many collection points organized by the Lion’s Clubs, which are active in eyeglasses recycling.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 153 million people around the world who need eyeglasses but can’t afford them, and having uncorrected vision problems severely impacts their ability to learn or earn a living, contributing to poverty.

Your old eyeglasses can be recycled so someone else can see. But in Japan no one seemed to be recycling glasses. I have looked extensively on several occasions to no avail.

Just recently I discovered that in 2012 the Japanese optical chain Zoff started a limited eyeglasses recycling program in cooperation with the Lion’s Clubs. Right now, they only collect in one store: their Harajuku shop in Tokyo. I hope they’ll expand the program as they have over 150 shops all around Japan. Until then, please consider dropping off your old glasses when you’re near their shop in Harajuku. It’s right along Omotesando, caddy-corner from Meiji Shrine and JR Harajuku Station:

zoff_harajuku

I brought in a pair today and to my surprise was given a 5% off coupon. I’m in the market for new glasses but unfortunately couldn’t find frames at Zoff that both fit and flattered my Western face AND were large enough to handle progressive prescription lenses (bifocals). Anyone have recommendations for shops with a good selection of frames for foreign faces? Or information on other places to recycle glasses? 

The JINS chain also collects old glasses, but these seem to get recycled for their materials, not donated to needy people. If you can read Japanese, Glass Gallery 29 in Tokyo will take mailed donations as well as drop-offs.

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2 Responses to How to donate old eyeglasses in Japan

  1. I just came across this post so you have probably already found new glasses. I’m a caucasian woman with a head the size of an average Japanese 6 year old. I’ve never had any luck at Zoff, the prices are great though. I find that designer frames from European brands usually fit well but they are expensive. For frame selection and service I like Washin, they have shops in Ginza and Shinjuku and some other places as well. The Shinjuku one has several floors. It usually averages about ¥40,000 for me to get glasses that fit anywhere in Japan. I’ve a pair from the Japanese company KameManNen that I like and I can get the lenses replaced easily. They look like they came out of a Meiji era time capsule though.

  2. Alice says:

    Thank you! I’ll check out Washin!

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