Business News/ News / World/  People in Japan forget how to smile during COVID-19 pandemic, start learning the art again; check details

Japanese people are seeking the expertise of smile tutors to relearn the art of smiling after years of concealing their mouths behind masks. With the official advice on mask-wearing lifted, many individuals are finding it challenging to adjust to life without face coverings, to the extent that some have admitted forgetting how to smile.

Keiko Kawano, a coach with the smile education company Egaoiku, explained that the prolonged mask-wearing period had led to a decrease in smiling opportunities, resulting in an increasing number of people feeling self-conscious about their smiles. 

Kawano emphasised, according to The Guardian, that consciously moving and relaxing the facial muscles would be crucial for creating a genuine and pleasant smile, promoting both physical and mental well-being.

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The smile relearning sessions conducted by Egaoiku have seen a significant increase in applicants since the media reported the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Participants use handheld mirrors to monitor their progress, making adjustments until they are satisfied with their pre-mask smiles.

One of the participants, 79-year-old Akiko Takizawa, expressed her excitement about returning to her pre-mask life with the guidance of her smile coach. According to The Guardian, she highlighted the importance of smiling, which she realised during the pandemic when social interactions were limited.

The smile classes, particularly popular among women, typically begin with facial stretches to relieve tension, followed by mirror exercises in line with Kawano's instructions. 

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Kawano emphasised the importance of conveying a smile genuinely, stating that even if one thought they were smiling or feeling happy, it wouldn't reach others if there was no expression.

Kawano, a well-known personality on television and social media, has coached over 4,000 individuals in the art of smiling over the past six years. She has also assisted numerous others in becoming certified "smile specialists". Currently, she supervises 20 trainers who conduct smile classes across Japan.

Given the widespread mask usage throughout the pandemic in Japan, there is a high demand for smile relearning services. A survey conducted by Laibo, a career research group, found that 27.8% of company employees in their 20s to 50s planned to continue wearing masks unconditionally while just over two-thirds would decide based on the situation. Only 5.5% expressed their willingness to go mask-free all the time, the publication reported.

Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Sounak Mukhopadhyay, who also goes by the name Sounak Mukherjee, has been producing digital news since 2012. He's worked for the International Business Times, The Inquisitr, and Moneycontrol in the past. He's also contributed to Free Press Journal and TheRichest with feature articles. He covers news for a wide range of subjects including business, finance, economy, politics and social media. Before working with digital news publications, he worked as a freelance content writer.
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Updated: 18 May 2023, 09:29 AM IST
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