People In Japan Are Signing Up For Classes To Teach Them How To Smile After Wearing Masks For Too Long
TOKYO, JAPAN - APRIL 07: Commuters wearing face masks walk to work the day before a state of emergency is expected to be imposed on April 7, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Japans Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, yesterday announced that the government intends to declare a state of emergency that will cover 7 of Japans 47 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, as the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak continues to spread in the country. The move will allow affected prefectures to take measures including expropriating private land and buildings and requisitioning medical supplies and food from companies that refuse to sell them.
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Some people in Japan reportedly became so used to wearing face masks during the COVID pandemic that they are taking classes to teach them how to smile again.

Instructor Keiko Kawano said that students in her classes hold mirrors up to their faces and use their hands to stretch their mouths up and outward, forcing themselves to smile.

Reuters reported that Kawano has seen an uptick in demand at her business Egaoiku, which means “smile education,” for her smile classes now that the pandemic is over. Mask use in Japan was nearly universal during the pandemic, the report said.

“Culturally, a smile signifies that I’m not holding a gun and I’m not a threat to you,” she said. “I think there’s a growing need for people to smile.”

A 20-year-old student who took the class said, “I hadn’t used my facial muscles much during COVID so it’s good workout for my face.”

“When you are alone at home, it’s normal not to be facially expressive,” Kawano told German broadcaster DW News. “If this is the case, then not moving (parts of) your face becomes the norm. I think there were a lot more such cases during the COVID pandemic.”

Students use tablets with apps installed that help them regain their smiles. The app captures their smile and gives them a score.

A 79-year-old who took the class said it has proven to be valuable.

“I didn’t have opportunities to see people during the coronavirus crisis and didn’t smile in public,” she said. “This has reminded me of how important smiling is.”


Kawano said that she tries to convey to students that it does not matter how they feel on the inside because “a smile is only a smile if it’s conveyed.”

“Even if you’re thinking about smiling or that you’re happy, if you have no expression, it won’t reach your audience,” she added.


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