10 Weird Diets That Were Popular in Japan

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10 Weird Diets That Were Popular in Japan

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Every country has its fads with different diets. We’re all searching for the secret to lose weight in the fastest, and easiest possible way. For example, in the 1930’s what was called “The Hollywood Diet”, or grapefruit diet, became popular in which one would eat half a grapefruit with every meal. Some of the diets that have become popular were potentially dangerous to one’s health, but many were also very short-lived. Although the diets often boom in popularity with the help of celebrity supporters and so on, in a few years we tend to forget that they ever existed.

Japan is no exception to the trend of fad diets. Almost every year, a new diet will gain popularity through a book or through celebrity supporters. Let’s take a look at a few of the diets that have been, or are, popular in Japan:

Note: The word for a diet in Japanese is the Japanese pronunciation of the English word: daietto. But in Japan, they use this word not only to refer to eating, or not eating, certain things, but also to different exercises. Therefore, some of the diets that will be listed will be popular exercises of the time too.

1960’s – 1970’s

Kombucha Diet:

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with what is called SCOBY, or a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. This tea is called mushroom tea in Japanese, but there are no mushrooms in the tea, the name just comes from the SCOBY that resembles a mushroom. This health drink became popular as a diet in the 1960’s but faded out. Over the past few years, America has seen kombucha become popular with celebrities advertising the positive effects of the drink. Thanks to the popularization in America, kombucha has been re-popularized in the past year within Japan.


Dangling Diet:

What’s easier than hanging from a metal bar for as long as you can? The dangling diet, was an exercise in which one would hold onto a metal bar above your hand and just, dangle.


Apple Diet:

The logic behind the apple diet was to fill yourself up with the low-calorie food, so you wouldn’t have to eat other foods. One apple would only be about 100 calories, and are quite filling for 100 calories, so you would end up eating less calories per day. Apples have numerous health benefits as well including polyphenols known to have antioxidant effects. Many didn’t take into account the sugar intake for each apple though…

Konnyaku Diet:

Konnyaku is a popular Japanese food made from the stem root of a plant called Konjac that is used in all different dishes. Konnyaku is firm, with a jelly-like texture, and is known for having very low calories and high amounts of fiber. The food doesnt have a lot of nutrients though, so you have to be careful to find your nutrients elsewhere.


Soap Diet:

Around 1995, a soap manufactured in China began popular in Japan. This soap that contained seaweed was advertised to have slimming effects. All you had to do was rub the soap on the places of the body that you wanted to lose weight. No one really knows if this soap worked or not though.

Slipper Diet:

Since you cannot wear shoes in homes in Japan, everybody instead wears slippers. With these slippers you could use all the time walking around within your home efficiently, by dieting just by wearing them. What was different about these slippers? The only thing that was different was that there was no heel part, so to get around the house you would have to tippy-toe which was thought to increase leg muscle and improve posture over time.

Balloon Diet:

This diet consisted of blowing balloons. Just blowing up balloons continuously was supposed to train your inner muscle and also facial muscles, to help make your face smaller.


Morning Banana Diet:

Still a popular diet in Japan, the morning banana diet consisted of eating a banana and a room temperature glass of water each morning for breakfast.

Diet DVDs:

Now you can exercise in the comfort of your home, but feel like you have a personal trainer right next to you. As having DVD players became more common, so did diet DVDs. And although there were dozens of different diet DVDs, one of the most popular ones was Billy’s Bootcamp. In it’s peak year, the Billy’s Bootcamp DVD sold over 1,500,000 DVDs.


Wonder Core Diet:

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This exercise machine is a simple machine where you can do sit-ups on a chair, and it trains your inner stomach muscle. The commercial for the machine however was so catchy that almost anybody in Japan would recognize the advertisement just from it’s song.

Although some diets have been completely forgotten like the slimming soap diet, many of these diets have experienced booms again in recent years, like the konnyaku diet and the kombucha diet. Are there any diets that you’d be willing to try?

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Born in US, currently a student in Japan. Loves Japanese culture, both traditional and contemporary.

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