Gen Z students in Japan are signing up for hour-long classes from professional instructors to learn how to smile after years of wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smile Education: Since Japan removed its mask requirements in March, the demand for smile coaches have increased. One of the country’s popular smile coaches is Keiko Kawano, a former radio host who now runs the company Smile Education.
“People have not been raising their cheeks under a mask or trying to smile much,” Kawano told The New York Times. “Now, they’re at a loss. People train their body muscles, but not their faces.”
Hollywood Style Smiling Technique: As young people have become accustomed to wearing masks over the past years, many Japanese people wish to improve their public facial expressions. Kawano teaches her Gen Z students her trademark “Hollywood Style Smiling Technique,” which includes “crescent eyes” and “round cheeks.”
The clients: Himawari Yoshida, a 20-year-old art student in Tokyo, reportedly attends Kawano’s class along with a dozen students as part of her school’s efforts to prepare them for the working world.
“I hadn’t used my facial muscles much during COVID so it’s good exercise,” Yoshida told Reuters.
Kawano’s clients also include companies and local governments looking to improve their employees’ public appearances and well-being.
She offers hour-long one-on-one sessions that cost 7,700 yen (approximately $55). As for those who want to become a professional coach like her, she also holds one-day training workshops for 80,000 yen (approximately $573).
Background: Kawano began teaching people how to smile in 2017. She has since trained 23 smiling coaches to spread her smiling technique around Japan.