Most people are reluctant to ask others whether their own body odor stinks or not. And even if an individual was able to work up enough courage to ask such a question, they’d have a hard time knowing whether the answer was sincere. In an attempt to put people’s minds at ease, Konica Minolta Inc. recently unveiled what it claims is the world’s first device that measures and rates a person’s body odor. The gadget, dubbed Kunkun Body (kunkun is an onomatopoeia for sniffing in Japanese), is a pocket-size instrument co-developed with the Osaka Institute of Technology that rates a person’s body odor on a scale of 1 to 100 and sends the results to a smartphone that is connected wirelessly. “Scents are chemical substances but how people’s sense of smell works varies according to each individual,” says Daisuke Koda, one of the key researchers behind the instrument’s development. Koda says, “We thought it would be very useful if we could create some kind of system to measure the types and strength of scents that are close to how humans smell.” Users simply launch an app on their smartphone, place the device near the area where they want to measure their body odor (ex.— their armpits or feet) and, about 20 seconds later, the results appear on their smartphone.“Body odor is one of the hardest things to point out to another person but because many people can’t smell their own odor, they have this vague sense of anxiety,” Koda says. “Now, however, they can feel assured by being able to ‘see’ their own scent.” - Japan Times Online
Not creating a stink at the office — More Japanese companies are taking the issue of unpleasant odors in the workplace seriously
From sexual harassment and power harassment to maternity harassment and alcohol harassment, unjustifiable conduct in the workplace takes many forms. In recent years, however, a new issue has begun receiving media attention: “smell harassment.” The “smell” referred to in the above phrase could be anything from bad breath and body odor to perfume and fabric softener. Regardless of whether a person is conscious of their odor or not, some consider it to be harassment if others are bothered by the smell. However, unlike other types of harassment, smell harassment — often abbreviated as sumehara — is a very personal and sensitive issue, making it difficult for others to speak up.
It’s worth noting at this point that some men and women suffer from a medical condition called axillary osmidrosis (commonly called wakiga in Japanese), a hereditary disorder caused by the secretion of the apocrine gland that causes body odor. Experts say that an estimated 10-15 percent of the Japanese population have this condition, adding that, in most cases, it can be treated through surgery.m
For the majority of the population, however, body odor is a consequence of general sweating. Both men and women sweat, but men are more likely to emit a stronger body odor. And more often than not, the person responsible for the odor is likely to be completely oblivious to the smell they are emitting because of olfactory fatigue, a condition in which individuals cannot distinguish a certain smell after being exposed to it for a period of time.
With more women in the workplace as well as commercials frequently using the term “kareishū,” the Japanese equivalent of “old-person smell,” men are increasingly becoming conscious of their smell. Drugstores typically feature rows of men’s products, from roll-on and spray-type deodorants to body-wipe sheets, scalp-care shampoo and so on. Deodorizing suits and socks are now available at menswear chainstore Yofuku-no-Aoyama, while Konica Minolta Inc. launched a gadget that measures body odor called Kunkun Body in mid-July.
“Body odor is not just a personal issue, because it affects those around you,” says Keisuke Oku, chief of the Public Relations Division at major cosmetics manufacturer Mandom Corp. “It could not only make others not want to work with you, but also negatively impact what people think of you.” In a survey compiled by Mandom in May, 63.1 percent of the 1,028 people who responded in Tokyo and Osaka ranked body odor as the No. 1 thing that bothers them during the government’s Cool Biz energy saving campaign, which calls on companies to set their air conditioners at 28 degrees Celsius. More specifically, respondents highlighted body odor and bad breath as the top two grooming categories they wished others would pay closer attention to.
Meanwhile, respondents who have come across the words “smell harassment” appear to have doubled from 20.1 percent in 2014 to 45.8 percent in May. “People’s awareness of body odor and smell is increasing,” Oku says. “It is not like sweat, which is mainly uncomfortable for yourself. Body odor will cause discomfort to others, too.” — Japan Times Online
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia