July 2, 2010

Japanese Culture by RPGHero: Radio Exercises

he first time I ever heard of Radio Exercises (Radio Taiso) was when I was watching Gintama episode 189 (The second half of the episode). Kagura being the youngster that she is, was enthused and motivated to go to the radio exercises every morning around 6/6:30 am. Gintama really parodied the radio exercises. At one point during the show they had the radio announcer say "Put your foot behind your ear like a stripper! Ichi, Ni, San..."

This unsubbed video episode on youtube was all I could find...

Or you can watch it for free on Crunchyroll.com if you can stand the ads.

That funny episode made me wonder what the radio exercises were really like and what their benefits were.

Well here's alittle background. Radio Taiso are exercises broadcast in the early morning, 6/6:30am, by NHK broadcasting. Around the time that they came out the life expectancy of the Japanese was around 40 years. These exercises were designed to combat that and I will explain their benefits later in the article. They were popularized during World War II because they fostered unity among the Japanese people through exercise which kept people healthy. When the US occupation occurred after the war this was banned along with Shogi and martial arts.

Now Radio Taiso are still broadcast and as per the Gintama show those that practice it are older adults and school children. Which is why the season for Radio Taiso is the summertime. However it has been referenced in "Wake up, hike out, tune in, move it" by Natsuko Fukue that Radio Taiso are also used by sports teams, college classes, and business companies.

The health benefits of Radio Taiso are numerous. When practiced early in the morning they can help one become alert and energized rather than taking the 1-3 hours to get fully awake this can awaken one fully in 15 minutes. That is because the exercises stimulate circulation of blood through the upper body which is sent to the brain, neck, and shoulders. However it is not only the upper body that is exercised. During the upper body stretches there are dips which are supposed to get the blood flowing to the lower extremities.

They remind me of stretches and calisthetics. And upon closer inspection they seem really corny so that may be why only kids and old people do them. But so do our jumping jacks which actually seem to look like a grandeurized version of Radio Taiso. America takes (probably butchering the Asian medical component) once again hahaha.

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