Want to Lose Weight the Japanese Way? 4 Fun Ways to Get Fit in Japan

  • HOW TO
  • Japanese people are typically slimmer than any other nationalities around the world. Have you ever wondered why?

    It is primarily because both young and old have the tendency to cut the carbs in their diet. If you ever find yourself staying in Japan for quite a while, it would be best to stay fit the Japanese way. Besides focusing on having a proper diet, it is also advisable to hit the gym or exercise from time to time. Other than these, you can also try these four Japanese ways so you’ll stay in shape all through the year.

    1. Sweat Away the Pounds with Taiko

    Musicians play drums

    Taiko (太鼓) literally means “fat drum” and it is commonly used in several celebrations across the country. The drum comes in an array of shapes and sizes. It is also used in religious ceremonies for Buddhists and Shintoists, so don’t be surprised if you see these drums in the temples and shrines.

    If you’ve ever seen a taiko show in the country, you’ll notice the drummers are getting a pretty good workout. If you look closely, taiko is more than just drumming. It is an intense performance that allows the drummers to move their entire bodies by jumping, stepping, and pounding. It is literally a whole body workout!

    Putting emotion into drumming can help you work on your cardiovascular system, which is essential for long life. If you ever get the chance to visit a Japanese temple during a festival season, then you can also enjoy watching and burning calories at the same time. If you’re serious about learning the art of taiko, you can do so at the Taiko Center (太鼓センター), which is a Japanese taiko company based in Tokyo (東京) and Kyoto (京都). Drumming classes are usually an hour long and done in groups.

    2. Workout your Stress and Calories with Kendo or Karate Class

    Martial arts class

    You can also chop away the fat in a kendo (剣道) or karate (空手) class. Kendo is a modern Japanese martial art while karate is a traditional martial art. It originated in China, but developed in mainland Japan.

    Learning both of these martial arts requires flexibility, stamina, and strength. It is a great way to stay in shape while enjoying developing your defense skills with peers. The weapon used in kendo looks like a Japanese sword; however, it is only used for practice. You can wear protective gear to prevent accidents from happening.

    If you feel stressed, you can just scream your lungs out while running towards your opponent! The classes will give you an excessive workout, which is both a combination of cardio and anaerobic exercise. If you’re a teacher in a Japanese school, you can participate in your students’ karate and kendo club for free!

    3. Boogie the Fat Away with Dance Arcades

    Arcade games may not be your typical choice of fitness, but there are actually many games which require a lot of movement. One type is a dance arcade, such as the Dance Dance Revolution games and pads which became popular in Europe, Asia, and Japan. This game was introduced by Konami wherein players stand on a dance platform and hit the colored arrows through the movement of their feet. This game offers a lot of dance rhythm, which allows the player to exercise while having fun.

    Another dance arcade is Maimai (マイマイ), which was developed by Sega. It allows players to interact with objects on a touch screen and execute some dance-like movements. This game requires each gamer to have total focus as the speed is so intense. Some players even bring headphones with them to avoid getting distracted. Other arcade games that will surely keep your heart pumping include taiko drumming and basketball.

    4. Enrich your Body and Soul with Mountain Climbing

    Japan is a place with some of the world’s best places for hiking and climbing. No wonder many travelers visit the far-flung places to explore the vast mountains. A stark contrast to the expansive concrete jungle in Tokyo, beautiful natural spaces can be visited for you to enjoy outdoor sports, which are ideal activities of keeping fit.

    The country is made up of 72% mountainous areas, so it doesn’t come as a surprise if you get to see beautiful forests and landscapes. Besides the added benefit of exercise, mountain climbing gives people a chance to bond and enjoy nature. Mountain climbing facilities in Japan are exceptional. Toilets are incredibly clean and at the end of a long hiking and climbing trail comes a hot spring (温泉) reward.

    Many of those who climb prepare delicious dishes in bento boxes including warm rice balls and nut packages. If you’d like to stay healthy and fit, try climbing the popular Mt. Fuji (富士山) in the country. It also gives you the opportunity to watch the sunrise from the top, which is a breathtaking experience.

    If you’d like to start your training, the best climbing season is from July to early September. The mountain is not slippery or wet, thus it is ideal to stretch those legs out and climb to the top.

    There are many climbing activities in the country, such as rock climbing in Nagano (長野), a place which gives you numerous climbing options. Some tours offer rock climbing options which prioritize the safety and comfort level of climbers. Since you are sweating a lot, always remember to bring plenty of water for hydration and also pack appropriate clothing.

    There are actually many different ways of staying fit in the country other than the ones mentioned above. Aside from doing martial arts, pounding the taiko drum, dancing to the arcade game’s music rhythm and climbing, you can also burn some calories with temple yoga. This is not only about sitting down in the temple but also about exercising in a multicultural environment. Through yoga, you’ll be able to enjoy classes with a calm atmosphere and also learn phrases such as “nobasu” (伸ばす), which means “stretch” and “hakidasu” (吐き出す), which means “exhale”.

    How about you? Do you have any recommendations of ways to get fit in Japan?