Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

10,000,000 people doing radio taiso
picture via Kampo
One of the participants of Fat Club uploaded an mp3 of radio taiso (morning radio exercise show) and I just set it to my alarm clock sound. radio taiso was banned by the US Occupation after WWII along with shogi (Japanese chess), all martial arts and a bunch of other things that were considered militaristic. I remember hearing a story on the radio that the original radio taiso came from the US. When life insurance just started as a business in the US, there was an uproar about "betting on people's lives." As part of a PR campaign, the life insurance companies started broadcasting exercise programs on the radio to make people more healthy. This culture migrated to Japan where now every morning millions of people exercise to radio taiso...

Here is the mp3 of chorus 1 of radio taiso.

Does anyone know if this story about the US insurance companies is true or not?

The Kampo home page has little animations like the one above and a full explanation (in Japanese) on how to do these exercises properly.


Reminded me of the sound from 'Only Yesterday' :-)

There are some that still find religious problems with life insurance. Apparently, to them, when you die you are called back to heaven, which is a more blissful state than anyone could possibly imagine on earth, so what's the point of leaving something behind when all will be provided, etc...For example, check this site (just informative, not an endorsement by any stretch):

I do recall that the insurance market in Japan is absolutely huge. US companies have a large presence there as the Japanese are some of the most insured people in the world, for some reason. Cancer insurance is a big seller from what I've been told (I did an investigation of US - Japanese insurance treaties a few years back).

Growing up in the USSR, we had radio programs like this too. Some recordings were broadcast over PA systems in schools -- just the music, with a different student leading the physical exercises every day. It was hell exercising in the school uniforms, let me tell you.

Perhaps the best-known Russian singer-songwriter of the 20th century, Vladimir Vysotsky, wrote a humorous song to the same effect, called "Morning exercises" ("utrenniaia gimnastika"). It's here -- the first three links on the left are to .ram audio files. If you're curious, I'm happy to translate, just e-mail me, since you don't seem to have a comments RSS feed. :)

Boy, what a blast from the past.

I do these exceedingly-dumb calisthenics most mornings and although it's only 3.5 minutes of exercise, it really does get you going.

Isn't there a famous television or radio personality in Japan that does this in the morning to music? "". Kitano Takeshi usually puts it in his indy(ish) films "Tokyo Eyes", "Battle Royale", "Kikujiro"....

I clicked on your link and my wife Izumi immediately broke out into calisthenics! My devious mind thinks it would be fun to take over a right wing sound truck and play Radio Taiso as you roll through the streets of Tokyo. . . I wonder if people would gradually give into the subconscious urge to break into mass calisthenics leaving a trail of bewildered (but refreshed) folks in your path.

It's really nostalgic vision. I also come from former USSR and I recall all these exercises we made in the school before our lessons.

I cannot locate in my memory the music to it, but it seems to be very similar with this Japanese music. I must say, I haven't like it so much ('cause I'm so un-sporty). But everytime I hear Radio Taiso, I want to start the sport gymnastics.

And also my Japanese girl-friend started to shake her hands promptly after I have played the Radio-Taiso.

And: although this gymnastic was banned by US-Occupation, the Japanese made it the whole time, as I know.

I'm no sport scientist, but the jerky stretching that Radio-Taiso promotes doesn't seem very healthy to me. I was always taught to stretch slow and long, so when I do warmups with my students I stand in the back and take it slow.

Yes. I think they're very dated exercises and really not that good for you. But they're probably better than sitting around on your butt. you have the good morning music of Radio Taiso??

i wait for answer in my mail…

er sorry..
i forgot my mail..
there is..

I wish to play the Radio Taiso music at the piano.
Please, do You want the partiture?
Or chorus? mp3 ?
Send me, please, if You can.

The song link seems to be no longer working please fix if possible.

Does anyone know where I can find written (or illustrated) directions and instructions on which motion to do when, etc.? I was thinking I'd write it down myself from watching a video, but I'd rather have something official. The official page has expired, so I dunno.


I've heard Radio Taiso did exist before WWII. The exercise session was a part of my life when I went to a Japanese elementary school, and later in many camps for the morning startup.

See here for the Japanese Wikipedia entry:

The official CD is available at:

And you can still hear the daily Radio Taiso exercise session on NHK Radio 1 network (Tokyo: 594kHz, Osaka: 666kHz) from 6:30am to 6:40am every day.

The Japanese Wikipedia article says US MetLife had the first idea of Radio Taiso in March 1925.

Joi - if you think it's so dorky, why don't you get the hell out of Japan and go back to wherever the dork country you're coming from ? So you can forget all about the "world's dorkiest music"?

Sachi: I think you're the first person who used the work "dork" in this thread.

Oh, I see. You probably got here via this thread:

(I searched on "world's dorkiest music")

Sorry, but you got the wrong guy. I didn't write that post. I don't hang out on that site.

tenpufairu, arigatou!

My daughter's elementary school does radio taiso every morning at the start of the day. She's in the Japanese Bilingual program there, but the whole school does it. Whenever I take her to school now I stick around to do it with them, and on the weekends we'll put it on youtube. Great way to start the day!

Now just waiting for the dubstep remix.

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Radio Taiso, mp3 of a Japanese radio exercise show. Read More

Radio Taiso was banned by the US Occupation after WWII along with shogi (Japanese chess), all martial arts and a bunch of other things that were considered militaristic. Here is the mp3 of chorus 1 of radio taiso (from Joi... Read More