Japanese Citizens Need Smile Training After Years of Masking

(Daily360.com) – The results of the years of facial masking are becoming clearer every day. In Japan citizens are opting to take formal lessons to re-learn how to smile. They’ve been masked for three years and it seems their facial muscles are non-responsive from lack of use.

One expert in the field named Kawano Keiko says clients contacting her say their smiles have atrophied. She says many are so concerned over their inability to show the simplest of social cues they’re requesting private sessions as not to have to interact within a group dynamic. Keiko says her lesson requests have increased over 450% since the month of March when the country removed its mask requirements. She says while masked, people simply had no opportunities to smile and now being unmasked has caused a level of stress. 

Kawano has become an expert in this unique field after she says working for years in radio caused her to lose her own ability to smile. As a result she’s studied what could be called, the smile physiology. Prior to mass-masking the majority of her clients came from the business realm, people wanting to make a better impression at work or during an interview. She was also sought by elderly people who had become sullen. Her business suffered during the pandemic as everyone was covered but has returned with a vengeance now. 

Could you too become a smile teacher you may wonder? Well, Kawano has certified over 700 “smile specialists” since 2017; the training lasts one day and costs the trainee roughly $650. Her trainers also report a surge in requests and Kawano is working with 20 assistants in her own practice.

There are doctors who are skeptical of Kawano’s practice and other critics point to Japan’s general culture and its norms feature less smiling than others. However, when interviewed the trainers all reported high customer satisfaction, ideally with a smile.

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