Today marks the 86th anniversary of the first radio broadcast of calisthenics in Japan—a fun and healthy practice that every Japanese person is familiar with. We made this video doodle of the Google logo dancing along to the classic calisthenics routine that’s broadcast every day on Japanese national television.

We sat down with its creators, Googler Shun Ikeda and doodler Kevin Laughlin, to find out what inspired them and hear about the fun they had behind the scenes.

What’s the story behind Japan’s love for calisthenics?

Shun: These short calisthenics routines first aired in Japan in 1928 to commemorate Emperor Hirohito’s coronation. They were created by Kampo life insurance company to encourage the whole nation to be healthier through improved circulation. Eventually, the practice became popular nationwide and a part of everyday life.

Many schoolchildren spent the mornings of their summer holidays doing calisthenics in the neighborhood park. Japanese manufacturing companies started out the day by leading their employees with these exercises—a form of greeting and a way to wake everyone up. Today, this calisthenics routine is aired on NHK (the country’s national TV broadcaster) at 6:25am, 9:55am and 2:55pm every weekday. The moves basically haven’t changed in 86 years!

How did you merge calisthenics together with the Google logo?

Kevin: I had never even heard of radio calisthenics until I worked on the doodle. To get up to speed artistically, I watched videos of NHK calisthenics broadcasts and noted their consistent look and feel.

At first we considered representing this in animation form, but it became clear that we had to shoot it as a video with real people. The question was, how do we incorporate the Google logo? We thought about having the actors hold the letters, but that became too clumsy. We eventually hit on the idea of having the actors wear the letters of the Google logo.
Sketch of the Google logo in their calisthenics costumes

The video is very authentic, down to the music and the lighting. How did you go about shooting the video?

Kevin: We shot the video in NHK’s studios, with the actual NHK calisthenics announcer—you can hear his voice-over narration of the doodle, counting “Ichi! Ni! San! Shi!”. The two ladies at the front are famous professional calisthenics performers on NHK, while the Google letters were actors.

Shun: The costumes were the most challenging part of the creation process. We had to find a material that was stretchy enough for the actors to move around in, yet sturdy enough to retain their shape. Eventually we found a costume designer to hand-sew these costumes, which were made out of urethane and plastic leather.

Kevin: In terms of art direction, I worked together with the NHK director on the look and the lighting to make sure it was exactly right. I worked on the background animation to give it an ambient, slightly cartoony, but distinctly Japanese feel.

Editor’s note: We invited Kagonya Awori, a PhD candidate in Computer Engineering at the University of Melbourne in Australia, to share her experiences as a Google Anita Borg Scholarship Award recipient in 2014. Twenty-eight women were selected from across Asia Pacific this year to receive funding towards their education and were invited to take part in a retreat in Tokyo last month.

Kagonya Awori from Nairobi, Kenya currently studying at the University of Melbourne, Australia

When I first heard about the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship three years ago, I did not think I would qualify. I thought one had to conquer the world — kind of like Dr. Anita Borg did — before applying. Fortunately, last year, I got an extra push from my PhD supervisor who thought the program would motivate me further in my research. He was right.

There are few programs that celebrate women in tech. There are even fewer opportunities for women from across Asia who are passionate about technology to get together over workshops, technical talks, and a hackathon. The Anita Borg program challenges that. It is incredibly encouraging to meet like-minded women who have all advanced technology in their own ways — from mentoring others, to designing their own technologies or starting their own businesses.
APAC Google Anita Borg Scholars 2014 in Tokyo

The impact from the scholars’ retreat that was held in Tokyo can still be seen and felt. I bonded with women from nine countries and formed a network with other scholars from Australia and New Zealand. A group of us from Australia and New Zealand is working on increasing the participation of women in tech-related fields in our countries, through connecting with high schools, university students and industry. We framed our goal in three words – Inspire, Connect, Increase.
Scholars from Australia and New Zealand

Receiving an award backed by Google has helped open doors. My PhD research, which looks at designing social and situated technologies that support dispersed learning environments in transnational contexts, has drawn more interest as a result. I have also had the pleasure of being invited to give talks to my university peers thanks to the award. I am honoured to be celebrated at The University of Melbourne for work that I am doing both here and in my home country, Kenya. This recognition encourages me to keep doing what I am doing — if not better.
One of the scholars in her Google Anita Borg Scholarship t-shirt

I have now returned from Tokyo to Melbourne quite rejuvenated. My fellow scholars have inspired me to continue to investigate how technology can advance the world, and above all, to continue to encourage other women to do so. I never imagined that the time I committed to holding workshops, tech sessions, free class lectures, mentorships and initiating tech chapters would ever be recognised. I am now pleased to say these efforts were never in vain.

Posted by Kagonya Awori, PhD Candidate at The University of Melbourne, Australia and Google Anita Borg Scholarship Award recipient in 2014.

Just 73km long and 41km wide, South Korea's island of Jeju packs in an incredibly rich natural and cultural heritage. Two million years after it was born from a volcanic eruption, this windswept island has become a popular holiday destination for Koreans and many tourists across Asia. Join us on a whirlwind tour of Jeju on Google Cultural Institute and Street View to see why.

Explore Jeju’s UNESCO World Wonders in 360 degrees
Volcanoes, mountains, caves, waterfalls—Jeju’s got them all. No wonder UNESCO designated it as a World Natural Heritage site in 2007 and we’ve now captured some of these views as online panoramas on Street View. Here are some of the new vistas on Google Maps and under the World Wonders section of the Google Cultural Institute:

Seongsan Ilchulbong
Rising above the hills of eastern Jeju, Seongsan Ilchulbong is one of the island’s highest peaks, and features a distinctive volcanic crater at its summit that inspired its name, “castle mountain sunrise peak.”
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The vista over Seongsan Ilchulbong
Oreum means “hill” in Jeju’s local dialect, though it actually refers to a small volcanic zone. Jeju is home to many of these mini-volcanoes and “Geomunoreum” is named “black hill” after the forest that grows in its center crater, so dense it appears black:

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The forests at Geomunoreum
Manjang Cave
Created by ancient hot lava flows, Manjang Cave is one of the biggest lava tubes in the world. Only 1 km of its estimated 7.4km is open to tourists — Street View takes you inside for a glimpse of this huge natural tunnel.
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Manjang Cave 
Zoom into Jeju’s history with the Art Project
The Jeju National Museum has documented the cultural history of this island from its earliest artifacts, such as archaeological tools made from abalone shells dating to the Neolithic Age, all the way to the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted five centuries from 1392 to 1897. Today, they have put over 150 items onto the Google Cultural Institute, as well as two online exhibitions called Hallasan Mountain and Korean Horses: Galloping Across Space and Time.

One of the highlights of the museum’s collection is Tamna Sullyeokdo, a book of paintings from 1702, which depicts the events and landscapes from the Jeju governor’s royal procession around the island. You can zoom into the painting at high resolution to appreciate all the minute details.
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Zoom into the details of the Tamna Sullyeokdo from the Jeju National Museum
Dive down with Jeju’s haenyeo in Historical Moments
Jeju is famous for its haenyeo, or “sea women,” who dive year-round to harvest abalone, conches, and other marine life. For generations, these courageous haenyeo have supported their families and the island’s economy by braving the freezing waters surrounding the island. Now, with the the population of female divers dwindling and aging (most of the haenyeo are in their 60s), it is more important than ever to preserve memories about this unique tradition for future generations.

The Jeju Provincial Self-governing Haenyeo Museum has documented the haenyeo’s customs since 2006. By unveiling four online exhibitions on the Cultural Institute they have curated today, we hope to convey the rugged, difficult depths that the women divers have frequented. Exhibits and photos of haenyeo are also highlighted as part of the Google Cultural Institute’s Women in Culture feature.
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Imagery from the new Jeju Haenyeo exhibit on Google Cultural Institute
We are proud to help not only Koreans but people all over the world to virtually visit and explore the heritage of one of the country’s most beloved destinations. From the picturesque woods of Geomunoreum to the mysterious depths of the Manjang Caves, we hope you’ll be inspired by Jeju’s beauty that you’ll come and visit it in person one day.

Posted by Amit Sood, Director of the Google Cultural Institute

Recently we released new research called “The Consumer Barometer”, providing powerful insights into the way consumers are using the web across 46 countries worldwide.

What’s clear from the data is that Asia is leading a mobile revolution. To put it another way, Asia has gone mobile-first. This is no longer a future trend, on some dim and distant horizon—it’s already happened in the past year. What do we mean by “mobile-first”? Well, for starters, Asia takes gold and silver for top smartphone adoption—Singapore is now #1 in the world at 85%, and Korea is just behind at 80%. This might not come as a surprise since these are both, after all, advanced economies.

What really puts this in perspective is when you look at computer adoption figures. In most countries computer adoption is still high, but what’s new is that across Asia—especially Southeast Asia—smartphone adoption has overtaken computer adoption for the first time in the past year. The trend is true in countries of all sizes and stages of economic development: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, not to mention Hong Kong and China.

Asia has leapfrogged the desktop internet

Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014

Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014

What about the West? Well, that’s where things get really interesting. It turns out this is a thoroughly Asian trend. There are (from this survey at least) no countries outside Asia where smartphone penetration is higher than computer penetration.

If we needed any further evidence that Asia has gone mobile-first, take a look at the figures for users who only go online via smartphones. Across Asia, especially Southeast Asia, we see many high double-digit numbers, but in the West this is largely a single-digit, or low double-digit trend.

In Asia, mobile is a must have
Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014.

In Asia, consumers are living in a mobile-first world that needs new products and services built with mobile in mind, not as an after thought or nice-to-have. There’s a great chance here for Asian businesses to lead the world in mobile-first innovation by reacting fast to the revolution that’s happened on the streets right outside their office doors. All they need to do is heed the consumers’ call.

A note on the research:
For more insights like these, head to where you can explore the results of our survey carried out by Taylor Nelson Sofres and Google across 46 countries covering device usage and online access, how people shop and watch and the role of digital in the path-to-purchase.

Posted by Simon Kahn, Chief Marketing Officer, Google Asia Pacific

“I believe the Internet is essential in this day and age” is a statement with which women in Asia unequivocally agree. That’s according to a survey of over 5,000 women across the region we conducted to understand better Asia’s digital gender divide. Women in Asia Pacific, whether they’re in Japan or India, value the Internet above all for the access it gives them to the information they want, and to communicate with people who are important to them. They also embrace the possibilities it offers for work and play.

But the digital gender divide remains. In some countries, women are half as likely as men to be online. In India, for example, just 21% of women use the Internet compared to 41% of men. The good news is the gap’s narrowing. In the Philippines, in fact, marginally more women are online than men.
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Source: 2014 TNS Connected Consumer Study for Google

Over the next few months, we’ll be digging into the data to show how the story varies from country to country. But at the regional level, some broad themes are clear:

1. The Internet still needs to prove its value to women
Many women in emerging markets who haven’t used the Internet doubt that it would be of use to them, or don’t know how to use it the way they’d want to. 35% of women across India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand can’t see any reason to access the Internet, and 30% say they don’t know how to do the things they’d want to do online. In contrast, just 18% of women across these markets are prevented from going online because access is too expensive.
2. Community is the most trusted source of Internet knowledge
Demonstrating what the web has to offer is a priority, and community learning is essential to unlocking the Internet for women in emerging markets. 73% of women who are likely to go online in these countries say they would prefer to receive information and instruction from friends and families. With this in mind, we have been working on creating opportunities, such as in Thailand, for women to come together in telecenters to access the Internet, learn and be inspired to use technology. Or in India, where we’re showing female students, housewives and professionals how the Internet is relevant to their day-to-day lives through search, video and email at government-run Internet centers.
3. Usefulness comes mixed with judgment
In developed markets, where Internet penetration is high, women also value the web as a tool to help them juggle dual roles in and out of the home. Ultimately, however, they face conflicting personal and societal expectations, and believe that neither society nor workplaces sufficiently cater for their roles as an employee and wife or mother.

More than 70% of working women in Australia and Korea believe the Internet can help improve the flexibility that they need in the workplace to meet their responsibilities in and out of the home. However, in Japan, organizational behaviour and cultural norms are at odds with this; just 43% of Japanese women think the Internet can help address the need for greater flexiblity at work. We recently started a program to understand how flexible work styles, including the use of Internet-enabled tools, can gain more acceptance in the country.

These are just some of the insights that we’ve gleaned so far. We look forward to sharing and discussing learnings from the research in the coming months, and to working together to develop approaches that we hope will help more women get the most out of the Internet. In the meantime, you’ll find some of our survey data and can learn more about our existing programs on the Women Will site.

Posted by Michelle Guthrie, Managing Director, Agencies, Google APAC and APAC lead for Women@Google

Editor’s note: This guest post comes from Dasho Kinley Dorji, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Kingdom of Bhutan. We are grateful to the Honorable Secretary for welcoming Street View to Bhutan and for sharing his experience with readers of our blog.

Anyone with an Internet connection can now visit our “hermit kingdom” of Bhutan, go on a virtual tour over its formidable mountain passes and through its lush valleys.
A view of Trongsa Dzong from Street View

Wangdue Phodrang

On Thursday, we launched Bhutan’s Street View project in the capital city Thimphu, a twenty-month initiative during which a Google Street View vehicle drove more than 3,000 kilometers over winding mountain roads to film terrain that had remained hidden for centuries.

Ura Highway winding through Bumthang

Street View provides dramatic views of our kingdom’s centuries-old heritage sites that include the monastic fortresses which house monks and government leaders, monasteries where Bhutanese and foreigners travel for days on pilgrimage, institutions where Buddhist novitiates study and seasoned monks meditate, and pristine villages where sustenance farmers live in close harmony with nature.

For the government of Bhutan, going on Street View is yet another step in reaching out to the world, albeit with its characteristic caution. With tourism being a priority for the country's socio-economic development, government officials reasoned that Street View images would be an introduction for visitors who were truly interested in going to one of the world's best known hotspots.

Today’s tourist wants a good look at the place where he or she may be spending an annual holiday or using much-valued savings on a family trip. Street View will help many of them make that decision, choose a hotel, and plan their trip.

For my colleagues in the government, the Street View project is also a strategy to look at their own country from a new perspective. They believe it will help them plan heritage maintenance projects, look at the condition of their roads and satellite towns, and take stock of conditions across the country.

It is also a step forward in Bhutan’s digital journey. The Government has declared a vision of building an ICT-enabled knowledge society, an “intelligent society that learns to learn”. Our Ministry, the Ministry of Information and Communications, which cleared the Street View project, is currently carrying out a mandate to take the country from Governance to e-Governance. We are also aiming at a “paperless” or “less paper” government. This is also an important step in that direction.

Posted by Dasho Kinley Dorji, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Kingdom of Bhutan

Centuries after the reign of Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s nomadic lifestyle and rugged terrain fill the imagination of many travelers seeking their next adventure...our Street View cars included.

In Ulaanbaatar today, we kicked off collection of imagery at a ceremony with the city’s mayor. A pick-up truck equipped with Google Trekker will explore the streets of the capital before heading to the steppe to bring imagery of Mongolia’s vast and beautiful landscapes to people around the globe.
Our latest Street View vehicle, in front of the Mongolian Parliament Building in Ulaanbaatar, about to head off on its own Mongolian adventure
For those of you who can’t wait, we’ve already added panoramic Street View imagery of a few sites around the capital, including the 13th Century Complex, Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue and Genghis Khan Square.
13th Century Complex
Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue
We're also working with the National Museum of Mongolia, the Bogd Khaan Palace and the Zanazabar Museum of Fine Arts to put their exhibits onto the Google Cultural Institute. Very soon, more people from around the world will be able to admire and learn more about Mongolia’s rich cultural heritage with the click of a mouse.

Posted by Nishant Nair, Street View Program Manager, Google Asia Pacific