Oh, Japan, we love you so much.
Morning stretches, or asa taisou, may look faintly ridiculous to many westerners, but it’s not uncommon for companies both large and small to have their entire staff standing up and performing a daily warmup routine each morning, often to music. Stroll past a construction site at around 8:30 a.m. and you’ll likely see a team of burly men wearing hard hats doing shoulder shrugs in unison or doing hip gyrations chanting one, two, three, four!
Just this morning, however, we at RocketNews24 witnessed perhaps the greatest example of morning stretch routines ever; a spectacle that had us chuckling, scratching out heads and finally nodding in agreement.
Prepare yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, for the Michinoku Librarian Union’s daily exercise routine!
Pure genius, we’re sure you’ll agree.
It’s not just the sheer enthusiasm of the participants taking part in the routine, but the number of cleverly thought-out library-specific movements that blew us away.
The guitar kicks in and the exercise leader announces that they’ll be warming up “from the scenario of sorting books.” Strap yourselves in, guys; it’s going to be a thoroughly efficient and well-organised ride!
Put those books back! Put those books back!
On to the book cart! It’s loaded with titles! And push, two, three, four!
But no sooner have we pushed our imaginary cart down the imaginary aisle than it’s back to the books! Is there no end to these things!?
With the flexibility of a group of nine-year-olds, the MULU staff twist their bodies and lunge forwards, laying waste to the imaginary stack of books piled in front of them.
Back on the shelf, dammit! Back on the shelf!!!
The piece de resistance of the entire routine, however, has to be when the team practice the procedure what to do during an earthquake.
Because of the danger of books falling and the shelves themselves toppling over during a sizeable tremor, the staff are trained to call out to patrons, telling them “Please move away from the bookcases! Please move away from the book cases!” as soon as a rumble occurs.
This sense of absolute preparedness is just one of the reasons why I simply adore Japan. People approach their jobs with such earnestness that it’s hard to find fault in their work, and customer service everywhere from fast food chains to trains that arrive precisely on schedule – or are otherwise accompanied by genuinely apologetic announcements- is simply expected. If they were told by their boss to get up and join in the morning stretch exercises, most of my friends back home would likely tell their boss precisely where to stick their routine, but when it comes to Japan and company-wide warm-ups, even the tough guy who could drink you under the table at parties joins in without batting an eyelid.
It was only when the routine reached the exercises to teach and practice how to avoid neck and eyestrain, however, that this writer realised that what a great idea it is. Hunched over my computer all day and with my shoulders and neck usually screaming at me by mid-morning, I actually found myself doing some of the dorky exercises in time with the video. Lo and behold, I already feel looser!
Pretty much every part of the body gets a workout during the routine, with actions from “nodding to customers” to everyone’s favourite “picking up heavy boxes” covered. You can be sure that workers suing their employer for work-related injury is rarely heard of in Japan…
You’ve been looking things up on the reference machine! Big nods! Move that neck!
“And now for your tired eyes!” the dynamic librarian then shouts before beginning an eyelid massage. The team apply pressure to their eyes, relieving the pain while simultaneously looking like my two-year-old nephew playing “haha you can’t see me!”
I laughed the first time I saw this video, but after a couple of playbacks, I’m a changed man. As of today, the RocketNews24 team and I are warming up properly every single morning! And, as these phantom library books are my witness, I’m going to have Mr. Sato sit in the corner playing the guitar, rhythmically guiding us through every exercise!
▼Nice workout guys! Let’s give it our best today with big smiles!
▼Heavy boxes; the mortal enemy of any librarian!
▼”And stretch those calves!”