Students in Japan have been undergoing ‘smile education’ to relearn their social cues after years of wearing masks against Covid.
Keiko Kawano’s company, Egaoiku, has seen a more than four-fold jump in demand for smile instruction since last year, according to Mail Online.
A one-hour-long session costs 7,700 yen (£44.24), and customers range from companies investing in salespeople to local governments supporting residents’ well-being.
Himawari Yoshida, 20, one of the students taking the class as part of her school’s courses to prepare them for the job market, says she needed to work on her smile.
‘I hadn’t used my facial muscles much during COVID so it’s good exercise,’ she said.
Before the pandemic, wearing a mask in Japan was normal for many during hay fever season and around exams due to concern about getting ill for a key life event.
A poll by public broadcaster NHK in May showed 55% of Japanese saying they were wearing them just as often as two months earlier. Only 8% said they had stopped wearing masks altogether.
Roughly a quarter of the art school students who took the smiling class on May 30 kept their masks on during the lesson.
Kawano said that young people have, perhaps, become used to life with masks.
She noted that women might find it easier to go out without makeup and men could hide that they had not shaved.
The former radio host who started giving lessons in 2017 has also trained 23 others as smiling coaches to spread the virtues and technique of crafting the perfect smile around Japan.
Her trademarked ‘Hollywood Style Smiling Technique’ method comprises ‘crescent eyes’, ’round cheeks’ and shaping the edges of the mouth to bare eight pearly whites in the upper row.