It's no big secret that children in Japan need to relax a bit more. With many undergoing entrance exams at age 12 — some even at age 6 — today's pre-teens are pressured to compete with their peers and be stellar academic performers from early on. Then there is ijime (bullying), a perennial problem, as well as a variety of other interpersonal issues that often add daily stress to little lives.

According to a 2006 survey by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Center, around 60 percent of elementary, junior and high-school students felt "irritated," a 2-to-4 percentage point increase over results from 1990. A health ministry study of 600 junior high-school students released in May, meanwhile, found that one in four of them are depressed.

Though it might be years before we start seeing our children, like the more mature stressed-out members of society, sit back in a chair at a "relaxation" salon for a quick foot massage, there is now slow-but-steady momentum among educators and parents to explore various options for letting children wind down, using such common tools as yoga and massage.