For people stressed or intimidated by fitness culture

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

In the United States, I’m often bombarded with images and ads of fitness culture. Athleisure is the craze, and it seems that the majority of people are members of gyms like Anytime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, or LA Fitness. Any decent hotel or typical college campus has free access to a gym, sometimes even offering workout clothes for rental. It’s the land of Alo Yoga and the birthplace to Crossfit. The most successful online influencers write about fitness, and it’s not uncommon to see someone share their workout on social media as they would their food.

But in contrast to…

How to stop sabotaging your own happiness

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

It just happens sometimes. I’ll be scrolling through Instagram and see that someone went on a luxurious vacation to a country I’ve never heard of, or see on LinkedIn that an old classmate got a great job promotion at a fancy tech firm. Sometimes it’s not even someone I know, but it’s an article titled “How this 22-year-old made millions in revenue in just 6 months” or “These 2 teens are changing the world with their innovative app idea”. I don’t even need to read the full print, I’ll just suddenly feel a bit inadequate, a bit ashamed.

What am…

Why hundreds of people gather in Tokyo’s Ueno Park every morning to do a 3-minute stretching routine

Photo by Tamba Budiarsana from Pexels

It’s one of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets and may seem a little quirky, especially if you’ve never lived in Japan before. But every morning, if you go to Ueno Park in Tokyo at 6:30 in the morning, you’ll find hundreds of people gathered at a plaza — appropriately named Rajio Taiso Square — all gathered to do something very simple: stretch.

What is rajio taiso?

Rajio taiso, or radio calisthenics in English, is a popular stretching routine developed back before the internet or even before television was widely used. Radio was the popular form of national media in Japan, and every morning the rajio taiso…

Friendly reminders for when you find yourself lost

Happiness is the most finicky thing, in that the more we try to pursue it, the more we find it wriggling away from our grasp. But there are signs you’re already living a wonderful life — and sometimes remembering that is all we need. Here are five of them:

You have someone to share news with.

When something really good happens to you, you have someone you can share the news with.

When something bad happens to you, you also have someone you can share the news with.

You concern yourself with the important things.

The last time you said “I hate you” to someone was when you were 5.

The last time you…

Turning around your health with a simple exercise trick

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

When I finally got impatient with myself and decided I was going to take care of myself better, for months I would go on a run every day — as soon as I got home I would drop off my bag, tie up my sneakers, and head out the door.

But before you become impressed with my seemingly disciplined 180 turnaround, let me be completely transparent: I would be back a mere 7 minutes later.

The psychology of 7 minutes a day

I really disliked exercise — or at least I thought I did — but had read enough articles on sustainable weight loss that there was…

What a Google Search reveals about indulgent food

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

One Google search, two very different results

What happens when you Google the terms “indulgent food”? What images do you think will pop up in the search results?

If you guessed overflowing milkshakes, candy, ice cream, chocolate, bacon, burgers, and fries, you’re exactly right. It’s not much of a surprise is it?

What tang ping and hikikomori reveal about what’s wrong with how we approach hard work

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

“Lying flat is my wise movement,”

It’s a quote from a user on the since-deleted post on the Chinese discussion forum Tieba, on how instead of participating in a capitalist society, they were going to live it out by ‘lying flat’.

The words for lying flat in Chinese are tang ping, and it has since become a popular social protest buzzword by young Chinese on societal pressures, and the value in choosing a more low-profile, modest lifestyle. …

A tiny story about how caring is contagious

I recently received this text message:

“My friend just sent me this amazing message about the birthday letter I gave him long ago. He says he reads it often which makes me so happy. Thanks for making my friendship better, I think you’re making the world a better place. ”

I always send letters in the mail, and she was talking about how it inspired her to do the same with her own relationships.

It’s funny, it was never my intention to use letter writing as a way to make the world a better place.

Letter writing was a little…

Abandon those insincere or strained dieting tactics

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

There is nothing more frustrating than starting your day eating perfect meals, made up of plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins, only to find yourself in those moments in-between, reaching for unhealthy snacks that we know we don’t need but can’t help but to reach for.

“I wish I didn’t eat that ice cream.”

“I shouldn’t have had that chocolate cake.”

“Why did I reach for that candy bar? Now I feel awful.”

These are very natural incidences, thoughts that many others and even myself have experienced. If it’s happened already, sometimes kuchisabishii is the best way to…

A model of flexible belief systems which grant me peace and comfort

Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

If you ask a Japanese person if they are religious, most would probably shake their heads no. They don’t really go to a church, have a Quran or similar religious text, or practice praying to any specific god.

But if you look at Japanese culture, it would seem it is steeped in religion.

Officially there are two main belief systems in the country, Buddhism and Shintoism. There are many large Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines scattered throughout the country, and even small neighborhoods would usually have their modest local shrine. …

Kaki Okumura

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: 🌱

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