Radio Calisthenics, Japan’s Wake-Up Call for Exercise


©Chris Lewis

At 6:30 every morning, the public radio broadcaster NHK presents Radio Calisthenics (Rajio taiso), a 10-15-minute long music programme where an instructor guides brave and willing individuals through their morning exercises. Around 10 million people in Japan participate in this practice, which includes gymnastic and strength exercises, as do several millions of others all over the world.

The programme takes inspiration from an American fitness routine which dates back to 1925. These exercises were mainly used to improve the health of Japanese soldiers from 1930 to 1940.

Following Japan’s defeat in 1945, the occupying powers banned the programme, deeming it too militaristic. But in 1951, with the backing of the Ministry of Education and Health, calisthenics returned to NHK Radio. Since then, the story has continued, every morning.

©Makoto Satsukawa

©Ansel Adams