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Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador Kaoru Yumi shares her 'beauty secrets' and the 'appeal of Minato-ku'

Making her debut in the entertainment industry in 1966, Kaoru Yumi has appeared in numerous dramas, movies, and television programs. In the historical drama 'Mito Komon,' she gained popularity in households nationwide for her roles as Kagero Ogin and Shippu no Oen. Since April 2023, she has served as a Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador, promoting the appeal of Minato-ku. Additionally, she has devoted herself to sharing her unique breathing technique, 'Yumi Breathing,' which is also the source of her good looks, and conducts lessons at nursing facilities within Minato-ku. During a recent lesson, we had the opportunity to learn about what makes Yumi Breathing unique and Yumi's activities as a Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador, among other things.

A breathing technique for protecting your health

――Yumi Breathing is your original method that combines breathing techniques with stretches and movements such as bending and stretching. You have also published a related book titled 'Kaoru Yumi's Breathing Lesson.' First, could you please tell us what prompted you to create Yumi Breathing?

It all started with a feeling that I needed to take responsibility for maintaining my own health. When we feel unwell, we usually go to see a doctor, right? Elderly individuals in particular tend to consult doctors even for minor issues. Of course, medical treatment is necessary to cure illnesses, but it's not wise to completely rely on others for our health. Ever since I was a teenager, I've been practicing ballet and Aikido, and I've been doing breathing exercises and stretches for many years. Breathing is fundamental to life and is incredibly important, you know. On top of that, proper breathing can boost one's immune system and your ability to heal. This is something I've become keenly aware of through my own practice over the years. Your health is something you must protect above all else. With that in mind, I drew on my experiences and devised Yumi Breathing, making it accessible even for elderly individuals.

――You've come up with a method that even elderly individuals can do by moving their bodies in sync with their breathing. That's great.

Yes, I've incorporated methods that can be done while seated for those experiencing leg or knee pain, and during lessons, I divide the exercises into beginner and intermediate levels to suit the participants. It's important for everyone to do what they're comfortable with without overdoing it. Since many people are not used to it at first, some may not know what to do, but once they actually experience it firsthand, the results are truly remarkable.

――What kind of feedback have you received from those who've taken your lessons?

I recently had a participant who'd been experiencing stomach pain for three days straight, but after attending the lesson, they said their pain disappeared instantaneously. They were very pleased and said they definitely want to continue, which was really heartening to hear. Also, the other day, someone with an artificial hip joint participated. They mentioned that they couldn't bend over or lift their leg. However, they were able to move their body after just one lesson, so much that even they were surprised.

――Wow, that's an amazing result!

I've also heard from someone whose legs were numb, and even though their doctor couldn't determine the cause, they said the sensation in their legs returned after the lesson. Furthermore, it's not only elderly individuals who join but middle aged and younger people as well. They all say that they feel lighter after the lesson. Everyone says that after Yumi Breathing, their whole body feels warm, like it does after taking a bath, and I've actually observed changes in their face color and facial expressions. The develop a healthier complexion and look relaxed and happy. I believe you can see it in the faces of everyone who participated in today's lesson.

Lessons attract participants from all over the country

――The reason you've been able to maintain your physique since your debut is because you've been continuing to breathe correctly, right? I'm also surprised by your beautifully balanced Y-shaped figure.

Thank you very much. Yes, breathing techniques also help with your physique. For example, if you bump into something or stumble, you usually fall down, but in my case, I can avoid injury without losing my balance. I believe this is thanks to the breathing techniques I've been practicing for years. As we age, our breathing tends to become shallow, but by focusing on deep breathing, which we are born doing, I believe we can remain eternally youthful and healthy. I'd like everyone to learn how to breathe properly through my book and lessons and incorporate my techniques into their daily lives.

――Is it true that people come from all over Japan to take your lessons?

Lately, I've had people come from Iwate and Hokkaido as well. They participate in the lessons, stay overnight in Tokyo, enjoy delicious food, and then head back home. It's like a little trip (laughs). That kind of experience is enjoyable, right? I also have many regulars who come back and take my lessons two or three times. Since I was appointed as a Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador, initially, I conducted lessons exclusively for residents of Minato-ku. However, I received many requests from people across the country who wanted to participate, so starting from fiscal 2024, anyone can join. I generally hold lessons once a week, so for details such as the schedule, please check out my website.

The charms of an area where tradition and modernity intersect

――You said that you initially conducted lessons exclusively for residents of Minato-ku. Could you tell us more about how you came to be appointed as a Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador?

Minato-ku is where I've lived living for many years, and my office is also located here. Through that connection, I was offered the role of Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador. However, even after living here for a long time, there are still many things I don't know. For example, the site of the former Shibaura Stadium, the birthplace of Japan's first professional baseball team, is located in Minato-ku. I actually visited it for the first time recently, and believe that part of my role as a tourism ambassador is to promote the lesser-known history of Minato-ku and the culture that we must preserve, both within and outside of the ward.

――One of the features of Minato-ku is that it's a place where old meets new. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, that's the perfect description. Nowadays, many people from overseas visit Minato-ku to check out the sights, and while new facilities are constantly popping up, there are also shopping streets that strongly retain the atmosphere of the Showa era. Even in Toranomon, if you venture into the streets behind the area where new buildings stand tall, you'll find traditional shops dotted around. In the sense that such tradition and modernity coexist, you could say that Minato-ku is similar to Kyoto, where I was born. It's an area that cherishes tradition while also embracing new culture. I want to convey the appeal of Minato-ku in this regard.

――Finally, could you please share a message to those who plan to visit Minato-ku in the future?

I believe you'll have unique interactions and experiences that you can only enjoy here in Minato-ku. The citizen's are all kind-hearted and considerate individuals. Whether you're from Japan or abroad, I'm sure you'll feel this when you interact with the people here. Minato-ku values interpersonal connections, so as a Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador, I also want to actively engage in communication with many different people.
【Kaoru Yumi official website】

【Minato-ku Tourism Ambassador Facebook page】
On this page, Minato-ku Tourism Ambassadors share the appeal of Minato-ku and other information with Japan and the world.

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