• Kyodo News


Domestic manufacturers and retailers have geared up their efforts in marketing pollen-resistant products, targeting the upcoming hay fever season where pollen levels are expected to be higher than those the previous spring in many parts of the country.

As high temperatures last summer led to abundant production of cedar and cypress flowers, the amount of pollen is expected to increase two to 10 times more than the previous spring on average, according to the Japan Weather Association.

Major convenience store chain Lawson Inc. set up in its stores a special corner dedicated to hay fever products from mid-January, around two weeks earlier than the previous year.

“We set it up earlier as it has been reported that pollen concentrations will increase,” a Lawson official said.

Pharmaceutical firm Kowa Co. introduced a new type of pollen-resistant mask from the end of 2010. Manufacturer Nippon Paper Crecia Co. launched this month lotion-infused tissues with cherry blossom essence that are expected to help reduce hay fever inflammation.

Major apparel maker Sanyo Shokai Ltd. has designed new variations of coats made of pollen-resistant material.

“We aim to popularize coats that protect wearers against pollen,” a Sanyo Shokai official said.

NTT DoCoMo Inc., the nation’s largest mobile phone carrier, opened earlier this month a website providing real-time pollen level information, collected by sensors at its 2,500 base stations.

“The website should help users take effective measures against hay fever by becoming aware of pollen concentration levels,” an NTT official said.

The weather association said in some parts of the Kinki region around Osaka and in the Tokai region around Nagoya, the pollen levels are expected to increase at least 10-fold.

Pollen dissemination will begin from early February in the Kanto and Tokai regions before spreading to Shikoku and Kyushu in mid-February. From March, pollen will migrate northward.

The association has called for early preparation against hay fever before the pollen starts to disseminate in February.

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