2021 NO.31


Taking a Little Break, Japan-Style


Take a Little Break in Japan

Japanese houses with large sliding doors provide excellent ventilation for a cool and comfortable space in summer.
Photo: Aflo

Rest is essential for nursing a tired body, changing pace, or nourishing the creative mind—indeed, for living a fulfilling life. Every culture has its own ways of recharging and takes different amounts of time off in a year. Since Japan is sometimes seen as a culture with long work hours, many may imagine that the Japanese are not good at relaxing. The reality, though, may be surprising. The Japanese people have actually devised a number of high-quality, satisfying ways to rejuvenate within a limited amount of downtime.

Real rest is a whole lot more than just lounging idly. The mind and body can actually recharge through activities different from the usual routine, or by trying on a new way of thinking. Practicing zazen sitting meditation or exercising outdoors are both excellent ways to refresh the body and soul. Surround yourself with lush greenery to relax the eyes, soak in a hot spring bath to restore tired muscles, or eat a special meal that aids digestion and helps the stomach relax. In Japan, all of these are ways to recharge a tired body and get ready for tomorrow.

Japanese culture encourages taking quick breaks throughout the day. For a change of pace, Japanese people take advantage of many places around the city to unwind on their own, as well as many items for relieving fatigue at the end of the day. Japanese people are, in fact, very good at taking time to rest.

In the search for more prosperous, comfortable lives, it is always good to rethink conventional ideas of work and rest. Japanese ways of taking a little break may just offer helpful hints.

A tsukubai in a Japanese garden. Visitors wash their hands before entering the tearoom to relax.
Photo: Aflo

A sunny, garden-side verandah is the perfect place for a cat to take a nap.
©MITSUHIRO KAWAMATA/MottoPet/amanaimages