Masks off, plugs in: New allergy tools go inside the nose

March 22nd, 2010 by Sandra Barron

Nose PitWhen people sing the praises of Japan’s four seasons and their motifs, spring is all about sakura. But for the sniffly, runny-eyed 13% of Japan’s population with kafunsho (hay fever), spring is the dreaded allergy season and the sugi is the only tree that matters. The fast-maturing cedars were planted en masse in the 50s for their wood and now blanket the country in misery-inducing pollen that sends millions running from February to April for piles of pills, gallons of anti-itch eye drops and mountains of masks.

Though the pollen counts are supposed to be only about half as bad as last year, morning weather forecasts still include daily pollen count maps dotted with teary, scrunched-up cartoon faces.

Allergy sufferers may try anything for a little fresh air: electronic purifiers that claim to cleanse vast areas or portable ionic purifiers that hang from the neck. Cosmetic and supplement maker DHC sells an anti-pollen “Double Blocking Mist” for spraying on fabric that the company says sells out every year.

Many keep it simple, though. Last year, surveys showed that paper masks were the go-to pollen protector for some 60% of allergy sufferers. Could it be that this year, after a long winter of swine-flu precautions and mask hysteria, people have had it with the ER look?

This spring, shelves are stuffed with nose-baring alternatives. Last month Pulse covered the Hanablo hoopla that preceded allergy season. A swab up the schnoz of the non-medicated gel is supposed to block out pollen and dust for four hours.

With a heavy push from retailers such as Tokyu Hands, Bio-International repackaged and relaunched Nose Pit and Nose Pit Stopper this year, “the world’s first invisible anti-allergenic masks.” The disposable plastic filters nestle deep in the nostrils, with only a thin plastic pull tab staying outside the nose. They are harder to spot than you might guess from the package, but the thin plastic filament that connects the two sides looks a lot like uncomfortable medical equipment.  The Stopper looks almost identical, but the package claims it will not only block out baddies, but absorb a runny nose, too. This could be useful if it works, since nose-blowing in public is generally frowned upon.

Hana Hana Happi from M-Kaep describes the design of its paper in-nose filter as a “3-D ziz-zag dome.” It looks like a regular paper mask shrunk down to individual nostril size. The white paper doesn’t disappear as deeply into the nose as the Nose Pit, but then, it doesn’t claim to be invisible. They are more discreet than, say, sticking wads of tissue paper up your nose, but it’s hard to say by how much.

Tags: , ,

One Response

  1. How cool! My allergies in NYC are killing me–wish these were available over here!

RSS

Recent Posts

  • 100 years of Japanese beauty in one minute

    Cut is setting its lens on Japan as it shows the dramatic changes Japanese women have gone through in the past century.

  • Studio Ghibli on a roll with licenses for new toys

    Nibariki has new wind-up toys inspired by Studio Ghibli’s “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.”

  • ‘Japan Sumo Cup’ is possibly the most Japanese thing ever

    In this rhythm game, players choose a real sumo player, ride an actual race horse and compete against characters from “Street Fighter.”

  • YouTubers in Japan with 100,000 fans and counting

    YouTube threw a big celebration for more than 20 YouTubers living in Japan who have over 100,000 subscribers.

  • Finding laughs in translations that have lost the plot

    The Orikaeshi Honyaku Dictionary site, which boasts the catchphrase “from Japanese to Japanese,” roughly translates as “Chinese whispers.”

  • Japan tricks out the Halloween treats

    Halloween is a time to carve pumpkins, enjoy a few scares and, most importantly, shovel as much candy as humanly possible into one’s own mouth. While the practice of door-to-door trick-or-treating may not be a thing in Japan, the custom of eating special Halloween snacks certainly translates. Plenty of companies, both overseas and domestic, are […]

  • Ginza Cozy Corner takes dessert into hyperdrive with ‘Star Wars’ cakes

    One Japanese confectionary vendor is about to find the Force deep within a sweet tie-up. Ahead of the December release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Ginza Cozy Corner, which has outlets nationwide, has made a line of “Star Wars” sweets that are truly out of this world. The treats themselves are all based on people […]

  • Warning: This viral video of high school girls might make you blush

    Cosmetic company Shiseido has recently uploaded a YouTube video that is blowing viewers’ minds with a bona fide twist. In the promo video, titled “High School Girl? — The Makeup Secrets of High School Girls,” the camera weaves through a classroom full of drop-dead cute young women who pout and wink like true pop idols. […]

  • Sharp dials up the fan service to celebrate 20 years of ‘Evangelion’

    For those who have always dreamed of owning an Evangelion robot, this might be the closest you get. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular “Neon Genesis Evangelion” animated series, Sharp is releasing a special smartphone that pays homage to the show both in the device’s hardware and software. The phone itself is detailed […]

  • Tokyo plugs into Google Play Music

    If you haven’t heard the latest news from Google Play, you may have missed your opportunity to tune into a Google Play Billboard. From Oct. 8-24, music lovers can head over to Shibuya to, literally, plug into a selection of over 3,500 songs. The Google Play Billboard is meant to give visitors a much-needed chance […]