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June 6, 2006

Jellyfish for relaxation in Japan

Healing, iyashi, is much sought after in Japan since the economic crisis.

It has given rise to a whole new culture, which is typically Japanese. People are willing to spend a lot of money on stress relief, sponsoring a $30 billion industry.

Traditional massage and herb therapy are a long passed station. Now you have animal therapy ("rent-a-pup", which is better than buying your own pet which brings stressful chores!), aromatherapy, luxurious "day spas", and exotic "high end" massages.

The Japanese spend six times as much money on these treatments than on acquiring new flatscreen televisions.

The most popular way to relieve stress, as reported by the Washington Post? You would never have guessed: watching jellyfish.

Apparently, it is soothing to see jellyfish slowly sliding through an aquarium. Many people buy their own jellyfish for at home, but that, too, may be stressful.

The Enoshima Aquarium in the vicinity of Tokyo offers the perfect solution. It organizes stay overs in the aquarium, enabling you before retiring for the night to leisurely watch a big tank where jellyfish dance to the sound of New Age music...

P.S. In Kurosawa Kiyoshi's film Bright Future (2002), one of the protagonists also keeps jellyfish - but poisonous ones. When these are in the end released into the canals of Tokyo, they bring about some unexpected results...

P.S.2. There is a lot of "Fake News" going around about "how weird the Japanese are," but the jellyfish story is true...