Oscar Johnson

Fitness Japan Editor Oscar Johnson is a Tokyo area journalist and writer from the United States who practices Aikido.

A knightly quest for combat fitness

A knightly quest for combat fitness

Martial arts are one way to work out, and traditions from the East are one way to fight. But Western martial artists with medieval armor and long swords - from the SCA to fabled Avalon - are forging a new path. In Tokyo, it  Read Article

Training at Castle Tintagel

Training at Castle Tintagel

Not all combat is like karate or kendo. At a newly built "castle" in Tokyo, Western martial arts are on the move. Cofounder Jay Noyes offers insight into what goes on behind the walls of Castle Tintagel.  Read Article

Legislated lifestyles for health

Legislated lifestyles for health

So-called lifestyle diseases and Japans aging population have spurred a new program prescribing that insurers screen for "metabolic syndrome" to treat lifestyles and stave off ailments.  Read Article

Aikido, the Yoshinkan way

Aikido, the Yoshinkan way

From training Tokyo police, to the book "Angry White Pajamas," Yoshinkan is known for its practical approach to aikido. But for 8th dan Tsutomu Chida, both practical self-defense and self-improvement are embodied in aikido - Yoshinkan style.  Read Article

Japans silver-label marathons

Japans silver-label marathons

Japan marathons did not win the gold but the IAAF gave silver labels to 10 of its annual meets - the second highest number. Whats up with that? Apparently, Japan has the Midas touch for organizing races but not for luring foreign athletes and media.  Read Article

Yoga gets the last laugh

Yoga gets the last laugh

Giggling your way to health and well-being may sound like a joke, but its no laughing matter - or is it? As the number of scientific studies on the benefits of a good guffaw grows, laughter yoga is on the rise - and so are Japans laughter clubs.  Read Article

Diet food for thought

Diet food for thought

Be it for weight loss or extra health benefits, diet fads abound in Japan - from a buffet of miracle foods to lucrative low-calorie-cuisine campaigns. But forgoing that extra helping of hype and some common sense are the real keys to getting fit and trim.  Read Article

A snowboard riders paradise

A snowboard riders paradise

Once considered the bad boys of the slope, as its new majority snowboarders are now its saviors. A few locals may cling to the fears of yesteryear, but none can deny this winter sport has revived Japan’s resort industry.  Read Article

Rugby: Japan\’s best kept secret

Rugby: Japan’s best kept secret

The dust has settled from Rugby World Cup 2007, but diehards in Tokyo are still lining up for the scrum. Just as Japan’s rugby union players are one of the world’s largest cadres at 126,000, non-pros also abound - and welcome new talent.  Read Article

The ultimate fun run

The ultimate fun run

Beer and bipedal pursuits may seem at odds, but the wacky triathlon of Hash House Harriers mixes running, oddball orienting and drinking. For 70 years, they’ve bridged borders between fun and fitness, and child’s play and playing to win.  Read Article

Convenient fitness at the combini

Convenient fitness at the combini

A gym as near as a 7-Eleven with circuit training in the time it takes to buy and eat bento may sound too convenient to be true. But "combini fitness" is all the rage. It may help you get into quick shape or fit workouts into a busy schedule.  Read Article

No pain, no gain - really?

No pain, no gain - really?

Why work out in tech-savvy Japan? From Joba horse-riding, vibration-exercise and chi machines, to core-conditioning underwear, gadgets to make you fit and trim without effort abound. Tipness and Golds gym personal trainers decipher the claims.  Read Article

Hammering one home for amateur baseball

Hammering one home for amateur baseball

From the Red Sox’s Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Yomiuri Giants, Japan shows baseball is not only a "great American pastime." But the Tokyo Hammers prove you don’t have to be in the major leagues to really play ball.  Read Article

Score a goal the Gaelic way

Score a goal the Gaelic way

Whether weary of rugby, sick of soccer or simply looking for new kicks on the pitch, Gaelic football offers a rare sports opportunity in the Land of the Rising Sun as the Japan Gaelic Athletic Association gears up for the 12th Asian Gaelic Games.  Read Article

Take a walk on the wild side

Take a walk on the wild side

Tokyoites need not just pine for the pristine. The big citys best-kept secrets are where and how to escape its bustle for hiking, rock climbing, sawanobori, cycling and more. Wilderness adventurers often call on others to join the fun.  Read Article

Fools for futsal

Fools for futsal

Whatever your goal - training for the field or a more genteel workout indoors - futsal, that popular cousin of soccer, is gaining ground in the Land of the Rising Sun.  Read Article

We don`t need no stinking skates!

We don`t need no stinking skates!

Tokyo Street Hockey Association calls the young at heart and those who are quick on their feet take to the streets in sneakers to play "the world`s fastest game."  Read Article

Cutting loose with capoeira

Cutting loose with capoeira

If you’re weary of martial art stoicism, want to dance to the beat of a different drum or try a sport that prizes play over points scored, capoeira may be just what you crave.  Read Article

Tattoo you and Japan\’s gyms

Tattoo you and Japan’s gyms

Whether training hard or hardly training, more people in Japan are finessing their physiques with tattoos - and learning they can be scarlet letters marking them as unfit for fitness clubs. Modern gyms abound, but so do old-world ideas about who can join.  Read Article

Tennis Anyone?

Tennis Anyone?

There's enough racket volleyed across life's net to make you want to take folks to court. Why not take them to a tennis court instead? Tokyo serves a wealth of private and public facilities you're sure to love.  Read Article

Getting the most from your swim stroke

Getting the most from your swim stroke

Gearing up for that next - or fist - triathlon? Like most, you've no doubt turned your attention toward more aquatic adventures. Avid swimmers abound but what're competitive runners or cyclists to do with a kilometer or two of water before them?  Read Article

Highland Games for fun and health

Highland Games for fun and health

It's not everyday a guy can strap on a skirt in a show of manly sportsmanship. But that's what kilt-clad competitors at the Japan Scottish Highland Games do as they lob stones, hammers and even logs in a show of strength, balance and stamina.  Read Article

A volley above and beyond the net

A volley above and beyond the net

Japan and Brazil men’s and women’s volleyball teams may be set to square off in the 2006 World Championships. But before turning to Yoyogi National Stadium consider a local gym where cross-cultural amity is volleyed across the net.  Read Article

Footballers for world peace

Footballers for world peace

World Cup soccer may bring fans of the Beautiful Game together from across the globe but a group of globally minded Tokyoites is scoring goals for cross-cultural friendship in its own backyard.  Read Article

Shall we dance?

Shall we dance?

There’re more ways to escape the rain and get some exercise than meet the eye. Whether it’s posture-perfecting tango, the aerobic high stepping of hip-hop, core-cranking hula or ballet, options abound for dancing your way to health.  Read Article

When teens take to the gym

When teens take to the gym

Nicolas Amp of Gold's Gym hit the gym at age 13, launching a passion for baseball, swimming, judo, basketball, rugby and bodybuilding. He shares thoughts on how sports training at a gym can help other teens.  Read Article

Tone River: the roller coaster of whitewater rafting

Tone River: the roller coaster of whitewater rafting

If you’re looking for an adventurous way to cool down, there’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of whitewater rafting. And there’s no better place than Tone River in the early season to get that roller-coaster ride on the rapids  Read Article

Cycling for a healthy planet

Cycling for a healthy planet

Cycling may be a great way to get around and keep fit. But that's not reason enough for BEE (Bicycle for Everyone's Earth). Its riders are gearing up to save the planet by really getting around this summer - from Hokkaido to Okinawa.  Read Article

What\'s that you\'re eating?

What's that you're eating?

Taking up your chopsticks to dig into the local cuisine can be an enigmatic exercise in faith. Nutritionist and health consultant Erica Angyal serves up insights on the good and bad common Japanese foods have to offer.  Read Article

The \'Disneyland\' of public sports parks

The 'Disneyland' of public sports parks

There's more to Urayasu City than Disneyland. One of its best-kept secrets is a palatial indoor sports-park and swimming facility that would've impressed old Walt himself. This monument to fitness offers health-club amenities at rec-center cost.  Read Article

Beyond skin-deep beauty and health

Beyond skin-deep beauty and health

Nutritionist Erica Angyal tells how the skin is a benchmark for how fit everything else is underneath and offers dietary advice for health as well as that radiant glow.  Read Article

Women\'s field hockey team takes to the pitch

Women's field hockey team takes to the pitch

Whether for fun, fitness or hobnobbing with friends, women on the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club ladies hockey team say the real thrill of victory in field hockey is the chance to gather as a team.  Read Article

Budo University offers rare athletic training

Budo University offers rare athletic training

If the mysteries of martial arts or a career in sports or fitness training are your idea of getting into shape, International Budo University offers the best of what Japan’s old and new worlds have to offer.  Read Article

Getting back into the fitness swing for spring

Getting back into the fitness swing for spring

Whether finally owning up to a New Years resolution, pining to strut your stuff for spring or yearning to be healthier, getting active after many months or years of inertia calls for taking a few precautions. Michael Lancaster offers expert insights.  Read Article

Ladies football club offers \’Onnabelievable\’ fitne

Ladies football club offers ’Onnabelievable’ fitne

Whether beginner or former all-American military soccer player, Onnabelievable Ladies Football Club proves you needn’t trade fitness for fun at Jingu Futsal Courts, in Queens Cup Tournaments, Nagano ALT Tournaments or other competitions.  Read Article

For the love of basketball

For the love of basketball

Any b-baller will tell you it can take a full-court press to find a good game of hoops in Japan. Facilities abound, but game organizers score the points when it comes to providing that chorus of squeaking sneakers and swishing nets.  Read Article

Aikido World Headquarters offers rare budo fitness

Aikido World Headquarters offers rare budo fitness

A martial art can be a path to fitness and traditional Japanese culture as well as self-defense. Aikikai Hombu Dojo provides the best of both worlds: training straight from the source and an international milieu that rivals Narita Airport.  Read Article

Pilates: Focused fitness for the body and mind

Pilates: Focused fitness for the body and mind

Why plod along with a run-of-the-treadmill workout? Pilates trainers explain how this unique method challenges both mind and body for better concentration, strength, flexibility and a therapeutic potential to heal injuries.  Read Article

Where to go for the snow

Where to go for the snow

With so many places in Japan to ski, snowboard and enjoy other winter activities, it can be hard to decide where to go. Fitness Japan asks the experts about their favorite spots.  Read Article

Foregoing ski resorts for perfect powder

Foregoing ski resorts for perfect powder

Why just ogle powder on far-off slopes from a lift wondering, "what if ... ?" If off piste is where you want to be, consider the backcountry. Backcountry Powder Tracks’ Chuck Olbery explains off-piste skiing and boarding in Japan.  Read Article

Getting the most from the slopes

Getting the most from the slopes

While marveling at the mirror over how well that snowsuit still fits, consider what's underneath. Evergreen Outdoor Center's Dave Enright and other experts explain why fitness is the real key to getting a lift out of the downhill experience.  Read Article

Japan\'s public gyms offer key to personal fitness

Japan's public gyms offer key to personal fitness

Are you looking for a nearby affordable place to workout? One of Japan's best-kept secrets is the wealth of training opportunities available at public recreational facilities and the fitness, sports and martial arts activities they offer.  Read Article

Sizing up a personal trainer

Sizing up a personal trainer

Are you thinking about enlisting the aid of a personal trainer? After unveiling the new state-of-the-art EastWest Fitness center, Jeff Libengood takes a moment to talk shop about what a good personal trainer is and isn't  Read Article

Half-fast cycling at full-throttle

Half-fast cycling at full-throttle

Don Morton and fellow Half-Fast cyclists counter the myth that Tokyo streets can’t be navigated, conquer new turf and offer fun-filled workouts that explore some of the city’s best-kept cycling secrets.  Read Article

Hassle-free cycling spots abound throughout Tokyo

Hassle-free cycling spots abound throughout Tokyo

It doesn't take a diehard cyclist - or even your own bike - to get into the saddle and ride in the megalopolis. Tokyo has a wealth of motorists-free courses to choose from. Exerscapes highlights a few to help you get on track.  Read Article

Ex-pat weekend runners keep up with competition

Ex-pat weekend runners keep up with competition

Namban Rengo, Tokyo’s premier ex-pat running club, has earned a reputation as a "barbarian horde" taking Japan’s competitive marathons and ekiden relays by storm. Co-founder Bob Poulson and top runner Brett Larner share insights.  Read Article

Powering up with yoga for a full-body workout

Powering up with yoga for a full-body workout

Not all yoga focuses on body and mind-bending contortions. Naomi Hoshina explains how baptiste power yoga provides practical sweat-drenched workouts to develop strength, muscle tone and a balanced physique.  Read Article