This week’s featured article


With tens of millions of people struggling to cope with hay fever caused by cedar and cypress pollen across Japan, companies are perpetually coming up with new ways to survive the season of itchy eyes and runny noses.

At least a quarter of Japan’s population of 123 million suffer from cold-like symptoms each spring because of the pollen dispersal, according to the Environment Ministry, which advises that people wear surgical masks, protective glasses and spend less time outdoors to defend themselves from the allergens.

But a paper company in Shizuoka Prefecture has come up with an alternative way of teaching defense against hay fever through illustrated toilet paper.

Hayashi Paper Manufacturing in the city of Fuji this year started marketing illustrated toilet paper rolls that show people how to determine if they have symptoms. The rolls bear tips on alleviating their suffering, such as “Wipe off the pollen from your pet’s fur.”

But some companies believe there is nothing people can do to defeat the hay fever season apart from leaving Japan.

Tokyo-based IT firm Isaac Co. allows employees to work from its satellite office in Hawaii to improve productivity during the dreaded season.

“Given that hay fever affects performance, we thought it would be better to work in more comfortable conditions,” said Akimitsu Koshikawa, a software engineer at the seven-employee company.

Around half of the employees are working from Honolulu, Koshikawa said, adding he plans to go there in April for about a month so he can concentrate on his work.

“It’s hard because the pollen makes you feel miserable even when indoors,” he said, explaining that last year he and his co-workers escaped from Tokyo to Okinawa.

DR. C Medical Medicine Co., meanwhile, has developed a new technology designed to suppress the absorption of cedar and cypress pollen by the human body.

Spokeswoman Yumi Kawahara explained that the technology uses a combination of titanium oxide and hydroxyapatite, a calcium phosphate similar to hard human tissue, that is incorporated in fabrics along with silver ions.

First published in The Japan Times on March 24.

Warm up

One-minute chat about allergies.


Collect words related to spring, e.g., cherry blossom, warm, graduation.

New words

1) dispersal: diffusion, e.g., The dispersal of viruses has to be prevented.

2) alleviate: lessen, e.g., This new medicine will alleviate the pain of arthritis.

3) absorption: soaking, e.g., A raincoat prevents the absorption of water.

Guess the headline

The key to surviving Japan’s h_ _ f _ _ _ _ season may be in the toilet stall


1) How many Japanese suffer from hay fever?

2) What does the Environment Ministry recommend hay fever sufferers do?

3) How are some companies coping with hay fever when it comes to staff?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you have hay fever?

2) What is your image of spring?

3) What do you think is effective to hay fever?






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