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Starting the Day Right with Rajio Taisō

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/14 Traditional Culture , ,

If you ever seen a scene in a Japanese movie or TV show where people are doing some morning exercise, have you noticed that they are using similar exercise music or similar exercise routine? Take for example this scene from the action thriller film, Battle Royale:

You can also see this in Japanese video games, like this one from the Nintendo DS game Animal Crossing (Japanese name: どうぶつの森 lit. Forest of Animals):

Rajio Taisō

The exercise routine is actually called the Rajio Taisō (ラジオ体操 ) or Radio Calisthenics. It is an exercise routine done to the tune by a piano. It has an upbeat melody and makes the routine fun and enjoyable (or so I think).

History of Rajio Taisō

Rajio Taisō’s history can be traced back to 1920’s in USA when the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. sponsored a radio broadcast that aired daily in six cities which includes New York and Washington. The 15-minute radio broadcast’s purpose is to air an exercise routine that is accompanied by piano. During that time, the insurance business in Japan is unstable because many died of infectious disease. The Japan Post Insurance Co. Ltd. (株式会社かんぽ生命保険 Kabushiki-gaisha Kampo Seimei Hoken) send some employees to the American insurer to learn something in the improvement of the nation’s health. The employees brought back samples of the radio exercise and start similar workouts.

The Rise of Rajio Taisō

Rajio Taisō was banned in 1946 because it appeared too militaristic but sometime in 1950, Kampo urged NHK to air a new exercise routine. The current Rajio Taisō debuted in 1951 and became popular with the help of the education and health ministries, the Japan Gymnastic Association and the Japan Recreation Association. Nowadays, it is broadcast several times a day on radio and TV across Japan.

Everybody Let’s Exercise!

The Rajio Taisō routine is composed of easy movements that everyone can perform. According to the book, “Itsudemo, Dokodemo, Daredemo (Whenever, Wherever, Whoever”, the routine stimulates blood circulation and improve flexibility. The routine can be performed at any time of the day but it is mostly done before the start of classes or work in the morning. The routine does not need a huge space to do. Some people do it together with their neighbors in parks.

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Some people do it in groups in a park in the neighborhood. (Image from AC-Illust)

The exercise has two versions, one that is for everyone and the other is for more active people. The routine is consist of 13 rhythmic movements and guarantees the pulse rate will average around 140 after.

If you want to do it, you may refer to this: Rajio Taisō Guide. The site is in Japanese though but it has easy-to-understand pictures. You can also refer to this video:

Sources:

1. Videos from Youtube

2. Wake up, hike out, tune in, move it. The Japan Times.

3. Radio Calisthenics: Keeping Fit and Keeping in Line the Japanese Way. Tofugu.

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