Since the official removal of the official recommendation to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, many admitted they had a hard time adjusting to life without covering their face, while others admitted that they forgot to smile.
“As wearing masks became the norm, people had fewer opportunities to smile, and more and more people developed a complex about it,” said Keiko Kawano, head coach of “smile training” company Egaoiku.
“Moving and relaxing the facial muscles is the key to a good smile. I want people to spend time smiling consciously for their physical and mental health.”
Participants used hand mirrors to check their progress, with some changing their expressions until they were satisfied with rediscovering their natural pre-mask smile.
Egaoiku saw the number of applicants increase 4.5 times after the media first reclassified COVID-19 in February.
A month later, the government said wearing a mask should be an individual choice, and in May the severity classification of the virus was lowered.
Akiko Takizawa, 79, one of the participants, said she was excited to be back in her pre-mask life with a little help from her smile coach.
A familiar face on television and social media, Kawano has coached more than 4,000 people in the art of smiles over the past six years, and helped hundreds become certified “smile experts,” the newspaper said.
He currently manages 20 instructors who teach classes all over Japan.