7 Japanese Disciplines for Good Health that You Will Love

It is highly probable that, without even realizing it, you're already doing some of these Japanese disciplines that are so beneficial for improving your quality of life.
7 Japanese Disciplines for Good Health that You Will Love
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Japan is currently in the first place when it comes to health and life expectancy. This can be explained through a lot of Japanese disciplines that help improve your health and promote your well being.

Just like a balanced diet, the Japanese approach to health is based on prevention; on the need to promote a healthy lifestyle and on funding regular medical check-ups in work environments to prevent the development of chronic illnesses and detecting cancer in its earliest stages.

On the other hand, we cannot forget Japan’s roots in its philosophy, its religion, and their very close relationship with nature, culture, order, beauty, and discipline.

All of this awakens in us a curiosity about Japanese people, despite the fact that for many of us this country is far away.

Today in our blog, we want to talk to you about disciplines that support the Japanese approach to guarantee inner balance and well-being that promotes better health, without curing illnesses.

We’re sure you’ll find this interesting and even practical in some ways.

Japanese disciplines that promote good health

1. Shiatsu or pressure points

Person doing shiatsu

Shiatsu or acupressure is not unknown to us in the Western world.

We’re talking about the kind of alternative medicine that uses the hands, fingers, elbows and even feet to apply variable pressure to strategic points of the body.

On our blog, we have already made reference to this technique and its benefits for reducing, for example, certain pains, as well as tension in areas of the neck and back which are so sensitive to our lives dominated by stress.

2. Taiso for the joints

We’re sure that on some occasion you’ve seen in a movie, documentary or even in a park, a person or a group of people practicing gentle stretches full of harmony.

Taiso is a type of gymnastics with a tradition that goes back more than 800 years. It has the purpose of preserving people’s joint health.

This Japanese discipline involves doing gentle exercises that seek to create an adequate breadth of movement to promote joint flexibility.

It’s a very relaxing and therapeutic Japanese discipline which is now practiced in many Western countries.

3. Tea ceremonies

A Japanese tea ceremony

Tea and good health always go hand in hand, both for the Japanese as well as for any of us.

However, it’s worth remembering that, for Japanese people, drinking tea is something more intimate, more spiritual and more significant than it may seem.

In reality, the chanoyu or tea ceremony is a path, a way of honoring guests, nature and our mind, where you can find adequate inner peace.

Therefore, these are the 4 objectives of this ceremony:

  • Reach adequate harmony with yourself and with nature
  • Promote respect towards others
  • Promote purity of mind
  • Reach mental peace and tranquility

4. The diet of good health and longevity

The fact that Japanese people eat better than many of us is something we all know.

Western people are great lovers of fried foods, saturated fats, white flours, frozen foods, processed foods and industrial sweets.

What if we integrate some of the principles of Japanese culture into our diet?

  • Smaller quantities on our plates
  • Eat more fish, rice, vegetables, fruits, algae, soy, and tea
  • The importance of fresh food, leaving aside industrialized food
  • Use fish and vegetable broths as a basis for any dish

5. Zen, a way of understanding reality

A person practicing Zen

Zen Buddhism arose in India, then traveled to China and, around the XIII century, arrived to Japan.

This term, in reality, covers several concepts and ideas:

  • Meditation
  • Contemplation
  • Quietening the mind
  • Mental concentration

Zen is the backbone of different areas of day-to-day life in the Japanese world. We can see it in their decoration, architecture, gardens and even in their way of relaxing and breathing and in their attitude.

It would do us good, for example, to put into practice our “zen” half an hour.

To do this, all you need to do is sit on a cushion with your legs crossed and your back straight, breathe deeply and then relax and meditate.

6. Reiki, a complementary therapy

We can believe in it or not. We can try it, or simply see it as something curious, something that is part of an ancient, ancestral form of healing where spirituality is combined with energy work.

Reiki  seeks to heal using the hands (without touching) to channel energy.

It’s said that it was the Japanese monk Mikao Usui that brought this type of therapy to his people after spending 21 days meditating on Mount Kurama in 1922.

However, it’s worth remembering that healing with the hands is a tradition of thousands of years. Its arrival in Japan is something more recent. Without a doubt, it has certain relevance in the daily life of many Japanese people.

7. Taiko, energy and vitality through sound

Two women doing taiko

The taiko is a big drum.

Knowing how to play it, how to sustain the rhythm, how to execute each cadence, each bar and each movement in the company of a group reflects, without a doubt, the result of great physical, mental and spiritual discipline.

It’s a very cathartic practice, the origins of which are found in diverse agrarian rituals. These sought to mark and enliven the rhythm of work.
Taiko was also used in times of war to warn of storms, fires, and other events.

Currently, taiko has spread to many countries as a spectacle.

It’s a very striking Japanese discipline, and as we mentioned, practicing it requires great concentration and body dynamics.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Keenan BJ. The Japanese Tea Ceremony and stress management. Holist Nurs Pract. 2013;
  • Chiesa A. Zen Meditation: An Integration of Current Evidence. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;
  • Shaku F, Tsutsumi M, Goto H, Arnoult D Saint. Measuring the Effects of Zen Training on Quality of Life and Mental Health Among Japanese Monk Trainees: A Cross-Sectional Study. J Altern Complement Med. 2013;
  • vanderVaart S, Gijsen VMGJ, de Wildt SN, Koren G. A Systematic Review of the Therapeutic Effects of Reiki. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;
  • Gabriel AS, Ninomiya K, Uneyama H. The role of the Japanese traditional diet in healthy and sustainable dietary patterns around the world. Nutrients. 2018.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.