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  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view felixlace's profile
    Posted August 3, 2014 by
    felixlace
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Convince us your city is healthy!

    More from felixlace

    Tokyo makes you healthy by being Tokyo.

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Videographer felixlace lives in Tokyo, a city which "makes" you healthy. "I think the idea of building cities around the car, and the lack of exercise this entails is one of the main culprits in the preventable health crisis that you see in the U.S.," he said. "Thus I wanted to highlight a more livable, sustainable and healthy style of urban living."
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    Unique is so many ways - and quirky as a city can get, Tokyo is known for many things: sushi, Cosplay and of course, Godzilla. Its also famously clean and probably the safest big city on Earth.
    When most people think about healthy cities, Tokyo generally doesn't come to mind. Tokyo has few parks in comparison to North American or Australian cities. It's sports gyms are extremely expensive and there aren't many dedicated bicycle lanes on it's streets. It also lacks the natural environment that encourages planned exercise.

    But surprisingly, Tokyo is a city that creates health. In Tokyo, there is no need for inspiration to help motivate individuals to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

    Tokyo makes you healthy by being Tokyo.
    "What?" you say.

    In stark contrast to the corpulent citizenry of the West and the US in particular, the vast majority of Tokyo's people are trim and healthy. The first thing most people think is "... it must be the diet. Japanese people must not have much junk food in their cities."
    But actually, there is fast-food-a-plenty in Tokyo. Even homegrown burger chains dot almost every corner of the city. While much stricter food safety regulations, portion size and the Japanese cultural trait of personal restraint do play a role in the health of Tokyoites, there are other reasons for the trim waistlines of it's citizens.

    Put simply, Tokyo is built to make you healthy. Tokyo is built to make you exercise each and every day, whether you want to or not. You don't have to plan or take time out of your busy schedule to get exercise, all you have to do is step outside your door.

    Trains and walking are the two basic ways of getting around this city of 35 million. Contrast this with automobile based cities, where the amount of walking people do in their daily lives is extremely low. It is this daily activity of walking, up and down streets and stairs as opposed to driving everywhere that helps Tokyoites stay trim.

    In Tokyo, the the car is NOT king. Actually, its not convenient or economical to own one. In fact the King, or rather Queen, I should say, of the streets of Tokyo is: The Mamachari. The Mamachari is a cultural icon of Japan and is the bicycle equivalent of the American mini-van.

    It's used on grocery runs, shuttling the kids to and fro, doing errands, and for quick trips down to the local train station. Moreover, bicycling is not a hobby or done by a narrowly defined demographic, but a way of life for all ages groups. From young kids to the elderly.

    Currently, Tokyo has no restrictions on where you can ride your Mamachari. Whether on the road, the sidewalk, in the park, or even at city hall you will not be harassed by police or by fellow citizens. Which gives the bicycle an interesting niche in the Tokyo transportation eco-system.

    Daily walking, stair-climbing, the Mamachari and running to catch trains all play a part in keeping Tokyoites lean and trim. Thus, Tokyo is not a city that relies on inspiration to make it's citizenry healthy. Tokyo just does, by being Tokyo.

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