Dalila Roglieri

Physical activity in Japan

12/05/2017

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A new chapter of the Travel Journal by Dalila Roglieri, a nutritionist and traveler, in which the Yakult Wellbeing Magazine will describe the experience lived in unique Japan, sometimes far from the most popular tourist routes. This month we are in Kobe, a city with a cosmopolitan and modern vocation in the central-south Japan.


"The great panoramic Japanese tower in a shape of a cylinder that is seen in the distance leaves no room for doubt: we are entering into the port of Kobe. But as soon as I get off board, I am struck by a beautiful small park called Meriken Park. Of course, I immediately head towards it.

 

While I am admiring the modern art pieces and reclaimed gardens in the park, my attention is captured by a man, whose face is visibly marked by the time. He is wandering close to a contemporary steel structure. It makes me smile when I see him as it makes me thing of the contrast which is created between the past and the modernism of the place: it cannot be simple for this man to interpret the meaning of this probably too creative work of art.

 

According to data provided by the World Health Organization, Japan, like Italy, is among countries with the highest life expectancy. During the trip, I curiously observed local people where I was often particularly impressed by the vitality of the eldest. I remember with pleasure my meeting with a Yakult Lady in Otaru: this elegant lady arranged the Yakult bottles with the same dynamism as a young woman. The secret of longevity of the Japanese population undoubtedly resides in a healthy lifestyle. The combination of nutrition and active life makes them the living example of the recommendations promoted by doctors and nutritionists.

 

Being fit also means elevating the beauty of a person by showing respect for oneself, the fundamental principle of Oriental culture.

 

I like to run in solitude by listening to music: it allows me to free my mind and make some room for new ideas. Since my arrival in the country, however, I have noticed how jogging around the city in shorts and earphones is not as common as in the West. Japanese culture seems to give physical activity a more social meaning, trying to gather citizens in indoor facilities and parks dedicated to outdoor sports.

 

To prevent chronic illnesses associated with obesity and being overweight, the Japanese government has adopted the rigid legislative measure known as Metabo Law, which legally enforces 40 to 74-year-old nationals to keep the waistline within precise limits. The adoption of the law has led to an increase in introducing changes to an active lifestyle: for example, in Kobe, gyms are frequented by citizens of all ages. They are open 24 hours a day. There are also commercial activities located close to the parks that allow to rent a locker to change from work clothes and to shower at the end of training.

 

When it comes to sports, the majority of them is related to the various martial arts that originated in the Middle Ages from the techniques of Samurai training and are mainly divided between disciplines that use bear hands. The five most practiced are the ken-dō (the sword's path), the karate-do (the path of open- hands), aiki-dō (the way of unifying life energy), kyu-do (archery) ju-do (gentle way). As with all Japanese arts, the improvement takes place through a gradual path, identified by the symbol - meaning "way" - present in all disciplines.

 

From the physical point of view, combat techniques combined with breathing exercises and constant training benefit the cardiovascular, skeletal and metabolic system. However, the greatest potential of martial arts lies behind shaping the character and strength of the mind: they are practices that teach transforming aggressiveness and negative emotions into effective defense and counter-attack movements, with precise rules driven by adversary's respect.

 

With combat disciplines, Japanese culture uses sports practice to promote the well-being of body and soul. I could not agree more with the essence of the principle. The passion for tennis which has characterized my adolescence has helped me to build a strong physical stamina; Personal development has equally benefited me. The daily workout teaches the constancy needed to deliver the result; victories repay the sacrifices made; defeats help to remain humble.


The art of life is best tackled by doing sports. 

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