Hay Fever Products Flying Off Shelves in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A special section for hay fever products is set up at the Ginza Loft store in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on Friday.

Sales of hay fever products have been strong, as Tokyo is said to be seeing the highest amount of pollen in the past 10 years.

Guidelines regarding the wearing of masks amid the pandemic were eased on March 13, but mask sales also remain strong.

According to the Ginza Loft daily goods store in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, sales of anti-pollen products roughly doubled in January to mid-March from the previous year.

“I usually take medication, but I also bought a spray because there are more opportunities to go out now,” a 27-year-old woman said on Friday. She bought a spray that contains a fragrant ingredient that inhibits the action of pollen.

The Japan Weather Association said the release of pollen began 10 days to two weeks earlier than last year, as the weather turned warm sooner than usual. In eastern Japan, the release of cedar pollen is expected to be at its peak until late March, while in Tokyo, cypress pollen is expected to peak after late March.

According to the Environment Ministry, this year is expected to see the most cedar pollen in the past 10 years in Tokyo and 11 prefectures, including Niigata.

Sales of allergy products are climbing at drugstores nationwide in proportion to the amount of pollen in the air. According to research firm Intage Inc., sales of rhinitis treatments increased by about 40% in January and February from the previous year. Allergy eye drops rose by about 50%.

Some companies provide employees with a “hay fever allowance,” based on the idea that hay fever leads to reduced work efficiency. Lafool Inc., a Tokyo-based developer of health management systems, introduced the allowance in 2018, paying up to ¥5,000 per treatment, such as hospital visits and receiving prescriptions.

Hokuo Ryutsu, a Tokyo-based transportation company, has been distributing pills and other products free of charge to truck drivers suffering from hay fever since fiscal 2019.

According to Intage, mask sales in February were steady at over 80% of the same month last year.

“Not only is the habit of mask-wearing well established, the amount of pollen is so high this year that the practice is unlikely to stop for some time,” said an official at Unicharm Corp., Japan’s largest disposable mask manufacturer.