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KABUKI NECK DANCE, a Stretch Exercise to Relieve Stiff Neck and Shoulder

NTT DOCOMO Inc. (Japan’s leading mobile operator with over 79 million subscriptions.) and Yoshihito Nagahata, director of the Japan Stretching Association NPO, have jointly developed the stretch exercise “KABUKI NECK DANCE” to relieve muscle fatigue caused by prolonged smartphone use.

A video demonstrating the “KABUKI NECK DANCE” by kabuki actor Kuniya Sawamura was published on “Kabuki Day,” February 20th.

To relieve neck and shoulder fatigue caused by smartphone overuse, the “KABUKI NECK DANCE.”


Since the prolonged use of smartphones is becoming more common, DOCOMO has developed the “KABUKI NECK DANCE” supervised by Yoshihito Nagahata, an instructor at the Teikyo University School of Medicine and director of the Japan Stretching Association NPO. This is to relieve neck and shoulder fatigue in five easy steps.

This stretching video has kabuki actor Kuniya Sawamura teaching the dance. The video, released on February 20th, designated as Kabuki Day because on February 20th, 1607 during the Edo Period, a woman entertainer named Izumo-no-Kuni first performed kabuki for Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa and other daimyo lords.

The “KABUKI NECK DANCE” can be done anytime and anywhere.

“KABUKI NECK DANCE” Instructions

Exercise 1

  1. First, turn your head slowly to the left.
  2. Turn your head back straight and put your chin down to make a double chin.
  3. Next, turn your head slowly to the right.

Exercise 2

  1. With one hand, touch your collarbone.
  2. At the same time, tilt your head 45 degrees to the right.
  3. Then turn your head upward 45 degrees. Repeat the same steps for the other side.
  4. While turning your head upward 45 degrees, open your mouth. Repeat the above steps.

Exercise 3

  1. Cross your arms in front of your chest, then spread your shoulders wide and stretch back.
  2. When you stick out your chest, feel your back muscles and slowly spread your arms.

Exercise 4

  1. While tapping your chest lightly, raise your elbows.
  2. Like the kabuki mie pose, while twisting your torso, face the palms of your hands outward and open your elbows while putting down your hands.
  3. Twist your torso in the other direction and repeat.

Exercise 5

  1. Stick out your chest, lower your shoulders, and extend your neck.
  2. Follow your eyes while slowly turning your head to the left.
  3. Repeat the above by slowly turning your head to the right.

– Stretch slowly and within your ability.

“KABUKI NECK DANCE” performed by Kuniya Sawamura


Born in 1978. From 1987 to 1992, worked for Gekidan Tohai and Otowa Group. In March 1995, joined kabuki actor Tojuro Sawamura. In May 1995, performed under the stage name “Kuniya Sawamura” in the play “Yoshida-ya” at Kanamaru-za Theater. He played the Yoshida-ya young man. He went on to play major, classic characters like the young Senkichi in the kabuki play “Kago Tsurube Satonoeizame” at the Kabukiza Theater in February 2010. In October 2019 at the Misono-za Theater, he played Hanjiro of Kanamachi in “Mabuta no Haha.” In January 2020 at Shinbashi Enbujo Theater, he played Kitota Matsunaga in “Gion Sairei Shinkoki Kinkakuji.” In August 2019 at the Minami-za Theater, he performed in a new-style kabuki play called “Hachigatsu Minami-za Cho-kabuki.” He played the lead villain as the spirit of Seiryu, and in the limited version he played the lead character Sato Shirobei Tadanobu. His outstanding performances attracted much attention.


I had never taught stretching exercises. When I first did the “KABUKI NECK DANCE”, I felt my entire blood circulation improve. It was especially effective when I looked up and opened my mouth widely.

When you hear the word “dance,” you might think it is difficult. However, these stretching exercises with a touch of kabuki moves are easier than you think.

People of all ages from kids to the elderly can enjoy these stretching exercises. I also do these exercises during kabuki practice and on the morning of a performance. I hope to spread these exercises too.

Yoshihito Nagahata, “KABUKI NECK DANCE” supervisor and Japan Stretching Association Director


  • Born Dec. 26th, 1960
  • From Osaka Prefecture.
  • Graduated Waseda University, Dept. of Education
  • Majored in Sports Science at Juntendo University Graduate School.
  • Opened Stretch-juku Toda Koen Branch in April 2001.
  • Coached the Ricoh Rugby Team and provides physical support to many corporate and collegiate rowing teams and Japanese national rowing teams. Also serves as a personal trainer for athletes in canoeing, cycling, martial arts, and dance.


In this modern age, people using their smartphones and computers for many hours tend to have a stiff neck and shoulders as a result.

To relieve these stiff muscles, having this “KABUKI NECK DANCE” using kabuki poses like “mie” is a great idea. If you look at these kabuki movements, they actually stretch those muscles. We could thereby develop these stretching exercises that we’ve never had before.

You can also sit on a chair while doing these dance exercises. So please, do it at work or at home. Everyone young and old can have fun doing


NTT DOCOMO, Japan’s leading mobile operator with over 79 million subscriptions, is one of the world’s foremost contributors to 3G, 4G and 5G mobile network technologies. Beyond core communications services, DOCOMO is challenging new frontiers in collaboration with a growing number of entities (“+d” partners), creating exciting and convenient value-added services that change the way people live and work. Under a medium-term plan toward 2020 and beyond, DOCOMO is pioneering a leading-edge 5G network to facilitate innovative services that will amaze and inspire customers beyond their expectations. DOCOMO is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (9437).

CONTACT: NTT DOCOMO “KABUKI NECK DANCE” PR Office (Platinum, Inc.) Contact: Morimoto, Nishioka or Sasada, Phone: 03-5572-6071 Fax: 03-5572-6075 E-mail: