According to reports, individuals in Japan have grown accustomed to wearing face masks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to such an extent that they are now enrolling in classes designed to relearn smiling.
Keiko Kawano, an instructor at Egaoiku, which translates to “smile education,” has observed an increase in demand for her smile classes now that the pandemic has subsided.
Reuters noted that mask usage was nearly universal in Japan during the pandemic.
During these classes, students hold mirrors to their faces and employ their hands to stretch their mouths upward and outward, encouraging themselves to smile.
Kawano explained that smiling holds cultural significance in Japan, as it conveys a non-threatening and peaceful demeanor. Consequently, she believes that there is a growing necessity for people to smile.
A 20-year-old student who attended one of these classes remarked, During COVID, I didn’t exercise my facial muscles much, so it’s a beneficial workout for my face.
Kawano explained to German broadcaster DW News, that when you’re alone at home, it’s normal not to express yourself facially.
In such situations, not moving certain parts of your face becomes the new normal. I think there were many cases like this during the COVID pandemic.”
To aid in the restoration of their smiles, students utilize tablets equipped with specialized apps. These applications capture their smiles and assign them scores, assisting their progress.
A 79-year-old participant in the class expressed the value it has brought to her life.
I found myself isolated during the coronavirus crisis and refrained from smiling publicly, she shared. This experience has served as a powerful reminder of the significance of smiling.
Kawano, the instructor, emphasizes to her students that internal feelings hold no significance when conveying a smile.
Regardless of your emotions or inner thoughts, a smile only holds meaning when expressed, she explained. Even if you have thoughts of happiness or intend to smile, without an outward expression, it fails to reach the intended audience.