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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Radio Calisthenics


stretchEvery morning from 6:30-6:45 Japan warms up, en masse, for another day of health and vigor and success. On NHK Radio’s morning news program, “Asa Ichiban” (朝一番、or "Top of the Morning"), there is—sandwiched between weather forecasts, local news, sports, a bit of music, and reporting from overseas—a 15-minute group stretch called “Rajio Taiso” (Radio Calisthenics).

All around Japan, mainly older people gather in parks and public spaces to stretch and warm-up together. There is even a web site devoted to this phenomenon. It features listings, by prefecture, of all the areas where you can go and join in the stretching.

Today public employees, workers at medium- and small-sized companies, and others can be seen early in the day stretching in a circle in front of their work place. They are usually bored stiff, yawning, and wearing plastic slippers. At top right children warm up, somewhat haphazardly, before a fall sports day.

The show dates back to 1928 and clearly bears the hallmarks of pre-War bureaucratic thinking. Get everyone up early! (Unless you are a college student or sex worker, it is still vaguely immoral to sleep past 8 a.m. in Japan.) Exercise together! (Control the masses via exercise and the national broadcaster.) Stay healthy! (Lower costs for the State.)

Listen to Morning Calisthenics.

Hotels in Kyoto


Japan Kyoto Exercise NHK

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