Rajio taiso is a standardized radio calisthenics (exercise) program that has been played on Japan's national radio (NHK) since 1928. Every morning at 6:30 ~ 6:40 and 8:40 ~ 8:50 people all over the country do a exercise routine together.
Rajio taiso exercises have only changed a few times in the last 85 years. The music is always the same too. It's a predictable routine that's only cancelled in the event of major national news.
Celebrate a New Emperor With A Morning WorkoutThe first radio calisthenics program was sponsored by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in the United States in 1922.
In the US, the program never got very popular and it faded out within a few years. However, it served as the inspiration for radio taiso in Japan.
Like most Western ideas that make it big in Japan — it quickly took on a Japanese flavor. The first rajio taiso broadcast was part of the 1928 commemoration of the coronation of Emperor Hirohito.
At the time, Japan had an expansionist military government that was interested in building comradeship and physical fitness across the population. Just 3 years earlier in 1925, police were granted the authority to arrest people for "wrong thoughts" (Peace Preservation Law).
If your neighborhood association, school, factory or office organized a radio taiso workout — it was in your best interests to participate.
Leading up to WWII practically everyone in the country was doing a 10 minute work out in unison each morning.
Peace and Radio WorkoutsAfter WWII, the government of occupied Japan banned radio taiso. It was felt that it was too militaristic.
Japan gained its independence again with the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951. One of the first things the new government did was to reinstitute radio taiso.
The music was updated and the exercises were modernized. Despite the fact that television had surpassed radio as a technology, radio taiso's popularity exploded once again.
This time companies and schools all over the country made it part of their morning routine. Factory and office workers alike were required to arrive early for their shift — to work out together.
In the 1980s, (when Japan's relative economic power peaked) images of armies of Japanese factory workers doing morning exercises in tidy uniforms struck fear in the hearts of Japan's economic competition.
Radio Taiso TodayMany old school Japanese companies still require workers to do radio taiso in the morning. However, it's much less common than it was.
For the most part, radio taiso has become the routine of the very old and the very young. It's still common for school children to do it as part of physical activity events. Many Japanese kids would have no idea what a radio was if it wasn't for radio taiso.