Japan braces for hay fever season

Tokyo, Jan 27 (Kyodo) Japanese manufacturers andretailers have geared up their efforts in marketingpollen-resistant products, targeting the upcoming hay feverseason where pollen levels are expected to be higher thanthose in the previous spring in many parts of the country.

As high temperatures last summer led to abundantproduction of cedar and cypress flowers, the amount of pollenin Japan is expected to increase two to 10 times more than theprevious spring on average, according to the Japan WeatherAssociation.

Major Japanese convenience store operator Lawson Inc. setup in its stores a special corner dedicated to anti-hay feverproducts from mid-January, around two weeks earlier than theprevious year.

''''We set it up earlier as it has been reported thatpollen dispersal will increase,'''' a Lawson official said.

Pharmaceutical firm Kowa Company Ltd. introduced a newtype of pollen-resistant mask from the end of 2010. Tissuemanufacturer Nippon Paper Crecia Co launched this monthlotion-infused tissues with cherry blossom essence that areexpected to help reduce inflammation for hay fever sufferers.

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

''''We aim to popularize coats that protect wearers againstpollen,'''' a Sanyo Shokai official said.

Japan''s largest mobile phone carrier NTT Docomo Inc.

opened earlier this month a website providing real-time pollenlevel information, collected by sensors at its 2,500 basestations.

''''The website should help users take effective measuresagainst hay fever by becoming aware of pollen dispersallevels,'''' an NTT spokesperson said.

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

Pollen dispersal will begin from early February in theKanto and Tokai regions before spreading to the Shikoku andKyushu regions in southwestern Japan in mid-February. FromMarch, pollen will disperse northward.

The association has called for early preparation againsthay fever before the pollen starts to disperse in February.


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