Keep calm, and don’t disturb the wa: stress relief in Japan

Japan’s got this image of being… kinda… stressed out. All the time.

You’ve heard stories of salarymen working 14-hour days, then going to karaoke and drinking a lot. You’ve seen pics of them fast asleep on trains, and in the street, maybe with a shoe missing. That happens. Not here at DEJAPAN – our work-life balance is pretty sweet – but we’ve seen it happen, too.

What also happens is: other Japanese people have other ways of coping with stress. More fun, non-alcoholic, weird and interesting ways. And there are some you can try at home.

Stress balls

The original, effective method, often the cheapest, and the safest (in our minds). We chose stress balls over punching bags, because there’s no chance of a stress ball swinging back and beaning you in the face.

Japan’s take on the stress ball can give you extra laughs. Cute ones, scented ones, new shapes and textures, the lot. Our latest fave is Cao Maru. They look like funny faces, or veggies with funny faces.

The designs make Cao Maru even more fun to smoosh. Pretend it’s the face of someone who’s been really winding you up. Pinching their cheeks, or giving their nose a boop, could make you feel way better.


Everybody needs somebody to hug. Or somethinghow about a dakimakura?

When you’re choosing a design, keep in mind that hug pillows and their covers are often sold separately. The important thing for many daki owners is what’s on the outside. Pick an anime or game character you really want to hold.

They’re all imagined in, uh… bedtime styles. Like these, some of the safer ones we could find…

We’re gonna keep it clean, people! Yes, you can get even more ‘ero’ explicit daki covers than the ones we’ve shown. We can’t ship obscene materials internationally, so be careful which designs you pick.

Another option’s one of those ‘boyfriend arm’ hug pillows. They come with the added bonus of a realistically heavy arm around you. It’s comforting, reassuring, and comfy to rest your head on.

Hey, not many hug pillows can claim they hug you back.

Self care and relaxation

Japanese beauty routines care for your skin and your soul. As long as you pick the right products. Aromatherapy oils aren’t the best stress reliever if you’re allergic to fragrances, for example.

Maybe what you need is a nice hot bath. With ramen bath powder! Or miso soup, or edamame, or something. Japan’s gone nuts for food-themed bath salts. They’re not edible or drinkable! So we don’t recommend trying.

Or, what about a shoulder rub? Getting a massage can be expensive. Getting a head/face/body massager is cheaper, and nobody’s gonna walk across your back.

Stress-reducing food

We don’t know why Japan’s got this ‘healthy food’ image. White rice isn’t exactly low in calories. Here in Osaka, the default state of most main dishes is ‘deep fried to perfection’. It’s easy to get fat living in Japan if you try hard enough, trust us.

To compensate, many Japanese food brands experiment with other body-friendly ingredients. Foods containing extra GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) can cut stress levels, for a little while. We’re talking about the good stuff here: stress relief chocolate, stress relief cookies…

You’ll feel the tension melting away with every bite. The temporary stress-reducing effect’s a good excuse to eat this stuff more often.

A jar you can yell into

The ‘screaming jar’ (叫びの壺) is made to be yelled at. Okay, yelled in.

Let out your stress by shouting your complaints into the jar. The top’s shaped to fit around the mouth, so no yells leak out. Nobody’ll hear you, if you’re doing it right – a light whisper comes out the other end. And the rest of the time, it just looks like a normal ornament.

How does that sound reduction work, huh? The inside shape of the jar absorbs angry sound waves. As they bounces around inside, they get quieter and quieter. By the time the sound reaches the bottom, most of the volume’s long gone.

De-stress, the Japanese way

See all of Japan’s weird takes on stress relief goods by searching DEJAPAN.

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