Exercising – Okinawan Style

Note: this was originally written in May of 1978 while in Japan.  Interestingly enough, it works for here and today. Enjoy!


After several months’ observation of the exercise habits of Okinawans, American and native, I’ve come up with a list of do’s and don’ts for the partici­pants and the spectators:

The primary rule-ichiban-is to ignore the weather, especially the rain. All sports can and do continue when the rain begins no matter what the temperature.

(1)  If flooding should occur, joggers stop only if you can’t swim.   Beware of lighting, use of which to dry off can curb exercising.

(2)  Bicycling fans always take care in passing minicars too closely.  One loosely thrown arm from the car can inflict major damage to your bicycle and or body.

(3)  Never whistle, yell or otherwise harass an exerciser even if she’s good looking, well-built or you’re desperate.    This kind of activity ruins concentration and presents danger to the athlete.  (She might fall into a ditch or run into a car trying to see who’s “bothering” her.)

(4) Girls, search sporting goods store for the cutest, briefest sweatsuit ever.  Speed always improves while being chased.

(5)  Bicyclers ride with traffic. However, be careful not to run red lights, hedge on yellow lights or even be too free on green lights.  Most drivers will run over you if they get a chance.  Joggers also beware – some drivers seem to be drawn to such targets.

(6) Runners do not need instructions from the passerby. If the athlete wants to kill himself/herself, he/she can do it easily without assistance.

(7) When jogging or cycling, keep one eye out for dogs. These friends of man can lead to a shot of adrenalin causing short, erratic bursts of speed.  Such incautious actions can land oneself in a ditch, hole or hospital.

(8) By all means, women, enroll in an exercise class.  This unrestrained activity can improve body tone and mental outlook.   Sore muscles are an added pleasure.

(9) After these exercise sessions, don’t forget to gather at the nearest bakery, dinner, chow hall, etc., to recover.

(10)  Exercise hardest during water rationing.  The resulting wetness does delude some into thinking they’ve been bathing.

(11) Stay a breathing space away from those who exercise during water rationing.

(12)  If the sweat reminds you of a dung hole instead of a bath, exercise only at gyms with showers during water rationing

(13)  Girls, be sure to frequent the gym weight room for a work out. In addition to the general companionship of men, you just might find “the man of your dreams.”  If you can stand within breathing distance of him there, a marriage on Okinawa might work.

(14)  Equipment should always include a sweatband for one’s forehead.  Sweat is a blinding agent, comparable only to typhoon rains.

Last but not least;   always overdo it – puffing chests, red faces,  sweaty T-shirts, pants, and shorts are definitely in fashion on Okinawa.

Sayonara from the wet paradise.