Posts Tagged ‘health’

Massage market targets the next generation

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Panasonic's Neck Refre

The massage market is getting trendier and appealing increasingly to a younger market. In April 2011, according to Nikkei Trendy, sales of Atex’s Rurundo Massage Cushion have exceeded 2 million. The product, a stylish throw pillow that has a rotating nub inside to massage the back, wouldn’t look out of place in the apartment of a young professional.

Panasonic is also targeting a younger market with their massage products. Its Neck Refure device, for example, is aimed at young women. According to Panasonic, their market research revealed that women in their 20s are the demographic that most wants to own a massage chair. This overturns the conventional wisdom that massage products appeal primarily to a 50-plus market.

While in general younger buyers  suffer from fewer aches and pains than older consumers, they tend to want products that can ease stiffness in the neck and shoulders. They also seem to favor compact products with simple functionality. Panasonic’s Neck Refure ticks all these boxes. Aimed at loosening stiffness in the neck, users simply wear the device wrapped around their neck. Resembling some kind of futuristic interface between man and machine, the device’s actual function is to emit low frequency waves that are purported to loosen stiffness. Though the product comes in a range of female-friendly shades (silver, lime green and pink), it’s proven to be just as popular with the men.

Many new massage devices target the female market. A quick search for new massage products online brought up the Power Shake and Estenad Sonic MOMO, both aimed at young women. Publicity shots for the Power Shake show a woman in lingerie using the product to relieve tension in her shoulder and thigh. (Though it’s not explicitly stated, we’re guessing the black rubber product is intended to reduce tension in more private areas of the anatomy too.) Estenad Sonic MOMO Ultrasonic also aims to bring a glow to the faces of women. The device oscillates at 5MHz, massaging the skin on the face to stimulate a rosy-cheeked fresh complexion.

 

‘Secret society’ takes a national stool sample

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

After you, um, go about your business on the toilet, do you check the results? The answer from most Japanese appears to be a resounding yes, according to a mysterious organization that has been conducting surveys on the ins and outs of digestion. Delzmarl, which dubs itself a “secret society,” has just published the results of its second investigation into the bowels of Japanese citizens online and come up with some interesting statistics.

The second report was based on information collected from 3,617 male and female respondents between March 1 and April 30. According to the poll, seven out of 10 (66.9 percent) respondents said they checked the state of their morning poo in the loo before flushing. The top three qualities checked by respondents were quantity (83.3%), color (80.7%) and texture (47.9%).  Surprisingly, smell came in at only 20.3%. There was a difference in what the sexes looked out for: 79.1% of men looked for color, while 81.5% of women were concerned with quantity.

The playfully illustrated website is now conducting its third survey on the average Japanese digestive tract, this time focusing on problems and concerns about bowel movements. The first question concerns constipation and asks respondents what they think is the cause. Those who fill out the survey are entered into a lottery to win one of 500 cell phone straps that resemble the human colon and double as plastic exercise tubes (as the video above demonstrates). The survey results are to be published June 30.

According to Delzmarl, “our waste is a barometer of our health” and “to have healthy poop we need lactic-acid bacteria.” Though the website is registered to Tohokushinsha Film, we’re guessing that Yakult, maker of the probiotic milk-like drink of the same name, is behind the survey, though you’ll have to check out Delzmarl’s privacy policy to see a mention of the company. We know that Japanese generally have a healthy sense of humor when it comes to poop, but perhaps Yakult is shy about directly asking its consumers about their daily dumps?

Music makes bananas fit for the long run

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Blasting an early ’90s J-pop song on repeat for a week straight might sound like a dubious military tactic. But Dole is just doing it to give its bananas a little extra pep for the Tokyo Marathon.

Banana power

Banana power

A variety of banana called Lakatan will arrive green from the Philippines and then be ripened for eight days in a storage facility after arrival in the Tokyo area. Various companies in Japan have experimented with giving their foods and beverages a bit of culture by letting them mature to Mozart, with “Mozart bananas” getting the most attention. While the Mozart pieces were chosen for frequency profiles that are reported to increase taste quality, the music for the marathon bananas was chosen a bit less scientifically: Dole asked former marathon runners via Twitter what songs they’d most like to hear at different points in the race. The inspirational song “Makenaide! (Don’t Give Up!)” by Zard was the hands-down winner, so that’s what the bananas are being serenaded with, 24 hours a day, for the eight days leading up to the marathon.

Some 78,000 bananas will be given out throughout the race to the 32,000 marathon runners at four spots along the 42.2-km route. The soundness of the science behind the singing seems to be a minor point. The company alludes to it only by having a slightly skeptical “Chief Quality Officer Alberto” of the plantation say in the promotional video clip that he “heard somewhere that playing music for the fruit  increases the sugar content . . . They’re nutritious either way, so why not give it a shot.”

With or without music, the Lakatan bananas have about twice the citric acid as the more commonly eaten Cavendish variety. Citric acid is popular as a diet and sports nutrition ingredient in Japan, and these little guys will continue to be sold as “sports bananas” once the race is over. They’re quite a bit smaller than the bananas usually sold in Japan, with a slightly tarter taste and denser, slightly orangey flesh. They’ll be available in grocery stores for about ¥300 a bunch, and sports shops will also be selling them experimentally for the month after the marathon.

Dentsu, Young & Rubicam is the PR company behind the marathon campaign, as well as those memorable spots with Shingo Katori sprouting bananas from his face. Just us, but we find the music thing a lot less disturbing.

Can mah-jongg and pachinko parlors clean up their acts?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Healthy Mah-jongg is getting more popular with young players who've discovered the game online

When we think of mah-jongg we generally conjure up images of middle-aged guys playing in dingy rooms, filled with thick blue smoke. So we definitely took note when we heard of  Kien Mah-Jongg Story, a new parlor that is offering a refreshingly smoke-free environment to its customers.

“Fewer people smoke and there’s a lot of people who hate smoking,” said company president Akira Aiba in a recent interview with Shibuya Keizai Shimbun. The atmosphere at Kien (no-smoking) Mah-jongg Story is “low key and chic” and designed to attract a younger, more fashionable, crowd in their 20s and 30s. Though the mahjong world of the past was predominantly male, Internet mahjong sites have turned on a new generation of younger female players.

The trend isn’t limited to the younger generation. According to a recent article in the Telegraph, Japan’s elderly generation are also opting to play the game in a healthier environment. Kenkou (healthy) Mah-jongg parlors (many of which are owned by Galapagos), where drinking, gambling and smoking are forbidden, have opened all over the country and are attracting a mainly female, elderly clientele.

Pachinko, another gaming industry that’s traditionally associated with chain smokers, appears to be taking steps — baby steps — toward cleaning up its act. You can be forgiven for thinking that pachinko parlors require their patrons to smoke, but there are actually a few places of refuge for non-smokers and their numbers are growing. Furthermore, there’s been talk in the Diet of extending the public smoking ban to places such as pachinko parlors, though you can bet that the owners and the tobacco industry will put up a fight.

What do you think? Should the smokers be kicked off the premises?

Japan by the numbers (12.03.10)

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Japan by the numbers (11.26.10)

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Japan by the numbers (11.22.10)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Anti-virus products diversify as fear sells

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Pico's masks provide trendy protection from infection

Pico’s masks provide trendy protection from infection

Products that claim to filter out or kill viruses are hugely popular in Japan; likewise, the market for surgical masks, sterile hand sanitizers and air purifiers is pretty healthy. There’s no shame in wearing a mask on the crowded train to work and, since the swine flu outbreak of 2009, it’s become pretty standard procedure to use a hand sanitizer upon entering the office building. While such precautions might seem a little obsessive, it’s become just a part of everyday life in Japan.

Virus Attacker designed by Nendo

Virus Attacker designed by Nendo

As the market grows, the design of these products is getting increasingly funky. This summer an air purifier called Virus Attacker, designed by the famous Nendo team for S.T. Corporation, came out on the market. Minimal and white, the Virus Attacker leans forward in order to target those nasty bugs, while adding a touch of space-age glamor to your home.

Anxious parents looking to protect their infants from infection have been snapping up a new product that completely encases a child in a protective environment when out and about. Basically a protective covering made out of breathable fabric that fits over baby strollers, the Vacuum Mask is designed to filter out harmful viruses, creating a sterile environment that would have been the envy of hypochondriac millionaire Howard Hughes. With little in the way of a media campaign, according to Nikkei Trendy, the product has sold out in many pharmacies across the country since it went on sale on 19 Oct.

Outdoors adult protection is still restricted to surgical masks, but recently cooler versions than the classic hospital white have been appearing on the market. We like this zebra print version by Pico and the girly mask from Design Mask, made with Gothic Lolita’s in mind.

As the weather gets colder and trains fill up with sniffling passengers, sales of anti-virus products look set to be brisk. Stocked up yet?

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