Teacher Wants to Make Japan Smile More

Over ten pupils from Tokyo art schools put mirrors up to their faces during one of Keiko Kawano’s most recent workshops. Using their fingers, the kids raised the sides of their mouths. They were honing their smiling technique. There is a growing need for Kawano’s smile teaching services in Japan, where the pandemic forced nearly everyone to wear masks or other face covers. Himawari Yoshida is enrolled in the course as part of a curriculum designed to get students ready for the workforce. Yoshida, 20, stated that she needed to improve her grin. “I hadn’t used my facial muscles much during COVID, so it’s good exercise,” she stated.


Customers of Kawano’s business, Egaoiku, which translates to “smile education,” include both local and private governments. A one-on-one instruction lasts an hour and costs $55. In Japan, wearing masks was common practice even before the pandemic. Masks are worn throughout allergy season and during exam periods in schools. Even though the government may have ceased recommending mask wear in March, a lot of people still do. According to a May opinion survey by public broadcaster NHK, 55% of Japanese people said they were wearing masks just as frequently as they had been two months before. Merely 8% of respondents claimed to have given up donning masks.


Approximately 25% of the pupils enrolled in the art school course continued to wear their masks throughout the lesson. According to Kawano, young people may have grown accustomed to living under masks. She pointed out that while men can conceal the fact they haven’t shaved their facial hair, women might find it simpler to go out without cosmetics. Kawano used to host radio shows. In 2017, she began instructing students. In order to spread the practice of smiling well, she has also taught 23 other people to be smiling coaches.

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