Asakatsu: up and at ’em

August 24th, 2010 by Sandra Barron

Fuji sunrise

The worms of Japan better watch their backs: The country’s early birds are out in force as the “morning activities ” trend takes root. Asakatsu, the practice of getting up early to pursue hobbies, has followers among office workers and unemployed people alike who are looking for a way to establish a fixed time for personal interests and self-improvement.

An asakatsu survey this spring by  the JMA Research Institute found that one in seven people (out of 1,000 men and women, age 20-50) was actively pursuing some kind of morning activity. Not bad for mere mortals. On the other hand, brand new company hires were a different species altogether: 82% said that they were doing morning activities or, um, said that at least they really wanted to.

A “businessman” survey by Asahi Beverages (which happened to include a section on the “power of canned coffee”) reported that about 17% of the people they surveyed were working toward some kind of degree or studying languages in the morning. Language schools in Tokyo with early morning classes include Linguuaphone Language Plaza’s “Early Bird Morning Challenge” at 7 and “Asakatsu English” lessons with Pan Nations at 7:30. An asakatsu book group meets at restaurants near Tsukiji market for sushi breakfast talks with authors. Rikkyo Business Creator “cram school” holds morning seminars to increase skills important in business.

The book “Asa 5jihan Oki no Shukan de, Jinsei wa Umaku Iku” (“Life Goes Well When you Get into the Habit of Getting up at 5:30”) is stacked up at bookstore endcaps and has been appearing prominently in front of the magazine racks at convenience stores. The cover is a bright, rosy pink sky of a hue that we’ve never seen, though who can say what the sky might look like at that hour?

Hiroki Baba told Pulse he gets up at 6:25 every weekday morning to do 20 or 30 minutes of energy work similar to tai chi before he takes off for his job as an engineer. “It gives me energy all day,” he says.  He is typical of the respondents in the JMA Research survey, who, on average, reported spending a little less than an hour on their activities of choice.

Cafe chain Wired opened a branch on the grounds of Yoyogi National Stadium called Cafe Wired <>Fit. The combination gym and cafe runs a class that combines a brisk walk in the park with a yoga session at 7:30 in the morning, and a plain morning yoga class as early as 7 a.m. Not far away in Sendagaya, restaurant Good Morning Cafe opens at 6. For those who don’t fancy a post-yoga “good morning hamburger plate,” there are other “first thing in the morning” options, including okayu porridge and an acai berry bowl. They also have a design-influenced take on the standard kissaten egg-and-toast breakfast set: Brushed stainless steel squares replace traditional coffee shops’ nondescript tableware, and the parboiled egg stands in its own cup. The restaurant’s slogan says it all: “Why don’t you start a first-thing-in-the morning lifestyle?”

Have at it, folks. Let us know how it goes. We’ll be catching a little shut-eye.


2 Responses

  1. All sorts of things seem to go on in the hours when I’m still safely snoring…
    Such as cafes serving parboiled eggs… I’m guessing these are precooked and then rehydrated later (like parboiled rice)…

  2. I’m one of Asakatsu woman.I started to take a kind of economy class in Marunouchi area. The class starts at 7:15 am. It’s hard for me to wake up early,like 5:30am,even once a week.
    But I could know lot of new things and meet lot of interesting people there. So I like Asakatsu.(But summer time is better.)

    >An asakatsu book group meets at restaurants near Tsukiji market for sushi breakfast talks with authors

    It sounds interesting,too!


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