Last week’s post was about Purikura (プリクラ), so this week I need to start with ら (ra). A big thank you to everyone who joined in this week, and a reminder to everyone who’s playing the game that you can’t play words ending with ん (n) because no words begin with ん and it would end the game! This week japanaustralia and ZoomingJapan both suggested rakugo (落語) and ramune (ラムネ), sequinsandcherryblossom agreed with rakugo and added rakko (ラッコ) which is a sea otter (because they’re cute), and lovelycomplex22 suggested rajio taisou (ラジオ体操 / radio calisthenics). They were all great suggestions, and I was very keen to write about ramune, but I’ve written about it before (see: A taste of summer in Japan), so in the end I decided to write about…
Rajio taisou (ラジオたいそう / ラジオ体操)
Rajio taisou (or, ‘radio calisthenics’) is a gentle exercise programme which is broadcast daily in the morning on public NHK radio in Japan. The idea was introduced to Japan in 1928 , but it was originally from the US (starting in the 1920s). The exercises were banned in 1945 because they were seen as being too militaristic in nature, but they were reintroduced by NHK in 1951 with the support of the education ministry, health ministry, the Japan Gymnastic Association and the Japan Recreation Association.
Rajio taiso is still broadcast today. It is commonly used at schools during sports day activities, and by some companies to build a sense of group togetherness and raise energy levels.
The first time I came across rajio taisou was on my first trip to Japan in 2006. I was in Hiroshima and had got up quite early to try to fit a lot in. As I was walking to Hiroshima Castle I spotted a group of workmen doing what looked like gentle aerobics. I didn’t succeed in getting a photo as I was worried about being shouted at for spying on them, but the memory of these men in hard hats and baggy workmen pants stretching up and down is etched in my mind!
Another time I came across rajio taisou in Japan was just before I left in 2011, at Tokyo Tower. There was a fundraising event, and one of the filler acts was rajio taiso. Not a lot of people were joining in, but the Tokyo Tower mascot seemed to be having fun…
This is a short post this week, but if you’re interested in learning a bit more about Japan’s rajio taisou, check out this 2009 article in the Japan Times: Wake up, hike out, tune in, move it. The article explains in more detail about the exercises themselves, where people do them, their origins and in which other countries you might find people stretching to the radio in the morning.
(Image source: Japan Times)
What do you think of this custom? Does your country have something similar? The UK has nothing like this that I know of, but I remember morning aerobics on the TV being quite popular in the 1980s and 1990s (such as Mr Motivator). I wonder what people in the UK would think of radio exercise and if anyone would bother to join in?
Rajio taisou (ラジオたいそう) ends with a sneaky う (u), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “u”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below and I’ll give you a mention next week. It’s getting tougher now – we’ve been going for 40 weeks! – so I really appreciate your ideas and input! But, don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v