Japanese Take Classes To Relearn How To Smile After Years of Masking

Tokyo, Japan - Getty Images
July 12, 2023

Japanese citizens are enrolling in classes to relearn how to smile, following years of strict government pandemic policies.

"I believe they've forgotten," Keiko Kawano, a former radio host who runs the smiling classes in Tokyo, said. "Because they were wearing masks, chances or opportunities to smile declined."

Videos online show students holding up a mirror and moving their faces with their hands, attempting to form smiles.

"I hadn't used my facial muscles much during COVID, so it's good exercise," Himawari Yoshida, a 20-year-old student taking the class, said.

Kawano teaches students to use facial muscles properly and practice smiling in mirrors and with video software.

The classes follow years of near-universal masking in the Asian country, even though mask mandates were never imposed by the government.

Japan dropped its COVID-19 border restrictions in May, becoming one of the last countries to leave the rules behind.

Democrats in the United States were also slow to relax their views on the pandemic. A poll taken last month marked the first time a majority of Democrats believed the pandemic is over.

Data from Gallup found 51 percent of Democrats think the pandemic has ended, an increase of 23 points since February. It's the first time since June 2021, when Gallup began asking, that a majority of Democrats said the pandemic is over. The numbers also show 84 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents believe it's ended.

A majority of Republicans first said they believe the pandemic is over in April 2022.

Published under: COVID-19