The Japanese Morning Exercise Routine - Rajio-Taiso

Nationwide Culture Rajio taiso 2020.03.29
Rajio Taiso (ラジオ体操) or Radio Calisthenics is a common routine of exercises broadcast on NHK radio every morning from 6:30. Why do a lot of Japanese people participate? And where can you join? Let's take a look at this unique part of Japanese culture.

Rajio Taiso (ラジオ体操) ・ Radio Calisthenics in Japan

First of all, what are radio calisthenics?

Rajio Taiso, literally "radio calisthenics," is a radio program that broadcasts a set of warm-up exercise guidelines along with music, and while "rajio taiso" is the Japanese name, similar programs are popular in China and Taiwan, too. In Japan, NHK, Japan's public broadcasting company, broadcasts the program from 6:30 am every morning on NHK Radio 1, and it lasts for approximately 10 minutes. According to Japan Post Insurance, the first broadcast took place in 1928, and the aim was to improve the health of the general public in Japan. Ever since then, this tradition of Rajio (radio in Japanese) Taiso has been incorporated into a lot of Japanese people's morning routines.

The good part about this exercise program is that it's been designed for anyone at any age to do on their own, without any equipment required. Everyone from children to the elderly can join in, and there's even versions that you can do while seated.
The whole rajio taiso exercise program is separated into two sections. The first part is aimed to improve the fitness of anyone at any age, and the second half is designed to improve muscle strength, mainly targeting a younger generation of the population. You can see a thorough breakdown of each movement used in the standard calisthenics program in this official PDF from NHK! (Or check out the videos below.)
Can you wake up for 6:30 start? There are many places where you can join in on the radio calisthenics around Japan, especially public parks, where crowds often form to do rajio taiso together. Below you can see dozens of people gathered in Ueno Park, all getting in some morning stretches at the same time!
Don't worry, even if you miss the one in the morning, people get together for rajio taiso in the afternoon, too.

Where can you try rajio taiso?

As we mentioned above, parks are popular places for rajio taiso, and Ueno Park is an especially famous spot! If you're staying in Asakusa, Ueno Park isn't too far away, and it's close to spots like Yanaka, Sendagi and the Nezu area (also known as the Yanesen Area), so after you finish your early morning exercise, you can head out for a pleasant stroll nearby. Or you can try Kinshi Park instead, which is even closer to Asakusa. (Kinshi Park also hosts a popular fleamarket every month, so with a little luck you can do radio calisthenics and then start the day with a little shopping!)

Give It a Try!

Check out this recording of an NHK rajio taiso TV broadcast (technically "terebi taiso" because it's on TV!), and try out these simple calisthenics whenever the mood strikes. 

You can also check out the rajio taiso videos uploaded on NHK's official YouTube channel (part 1 and part 2), or a whole variety of different radio calisthenics videos here, with Pokemon, Japanese mascots, even Hello Kitty.
If you ever get the chance to go and join one of the big rajio taiso gatherings (or you just try it at home!), let us what you think about the experience, and follow us on the Japankuru twitter, instagram, and facebook!
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