Try some Japanese lifestyle practices for better living, say these converts.

Traveller Denise Hare, 27, got to experience the health benefits of Japanese culture firsthand when she stayed in Himeji on exchange as part of her degree in Asian studies.

Ms Hare says cycling is the popular way for students to get around, which kept her fit. And in addition to the healthy food, tea drinking was encouraged by her hosts.

“You have green tea with everything — with breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, ” she says. “I was there in the summer so it was hot and very humid. The last thing I wanted was a hot drink, but it was surprisingly refreshing.”

A relaxing element of Japanese culture Ms Hare has embraced is the ofuro bath.

“Before bathing, you take a shower so you are completely clean before getting into the bath, ” she says. “Then the bath is purely for relaxing and unwinding after the day. I still like to do that now, although it is not good for our water bill!"

TRY: Japanese massage therapy

Shiatsu is a form of Japanese massage therapy.

With its roots going back to traditional Chinese medicine, shiatsu (meaning “finger pressure”) involves massage of acupressure points and gentle stretches.

Erycka Pereira, shiatsu practitioner at The Healing Point, says it rebalances energy flow (known as chi).

“When the flow of chi is interrupted it causes different problems, ” she says. “If the flow of chi is blocked the harmony of our body is disrupted. Balancing the flow of chi throughout the body restores harmony to the mind, body and spirit.”

Ms Pereira says shiatsu is like acupuncture but instead of using needles, the practitioners use pressure.

“It is great for back pain, shoulder pain, fatigue, digestion and menstrual problems, stress and anxiety, ” she says. “It is more than a massage, it is therapeutic.”

Libby Williams, shiatsu therapist at Centro Innovative Health and owner of Libby Shiatsu, says it is suitable for young and old.

“Unlike a day spa massage, it is a fully clothed massage without the use of oils. It involves some stretches so it is best to wear comfortable, loose clothing. It is performed on a futon, often on the ground.”

Ms Williams says the massage of acupressure points stimulates self-healing.

“It makes you feel great — it eases stress, allows your body to repair and boosts your immune system, ” she says.

Ms Pereira adds: “I think people have a better quality of life by experiencing shiatsu. They feel better about themselves. People are so busy and this makes them just stop — it brings people back to their bodies.”

Shiatsu can even help you look better, according to Ms Williams, who performs “shiatsu facials”.

“A shiatsu facial increases circulation and blood flow and if given enough it lifts and tones and plumps up your face, ” she says. “I have regular clients who love it. I use simple, organic products to complement the treatment . . . it makes you glow.”

Ordering takeaway?

To make the healthier choices:

Pick: Sushi and sashimi.

Skip: Tempura and katsu.

Note: Raw seafood is not recommended for some people, such as pregnant women. (Recommendations from Maria Packard).

Did you know?

Although the Japanese diet, in many elements, is healthy, it is high in salt, so dietitian Maria Packard says be aware of how much soy and high-salt sauces you eat.


© The West Australian

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