Post Reply Japan's Latest Crisis: sume-hara (smell harassment)
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M / US
Posted 12/15/13 , edited 12/15/13
I don't know how many saw this article in Friday's Wall Street Journal:

In Japan, Scented Fabric Softeners Wrinkle Some Noses

And this companion blog post:

For Some, Scented Fabric Softeners No Laughing Matter

Japan's environment ministry came up with a novel suggestion earlier this year for women sweating out the summer in hot, energy-scrimping offices. "Combat body odor,'' the ministry suggested in a tip-filled Web page touting its turn-up-the-thermostat campaign, "by using scented fabric softener.''


The ministry's suggestion spurred action by groups such as the Chemical Sensitivity Support Center and the Society Demanding Fragrance Restraint, while bloggers raged about "secondhand Downy." The Japanese media has coined the phrase "sume-hara," for "smell harassment."

The article goes on to say that one of the most aggressive adopters of fabric softener are high school boys. One woman who claims to be sensitive to the smell says she leaves the train as soon as she sees a group of them come on board.
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22 / F / Earth. Las Vegas,...
Posted 12/27/13 , edited 12/27/13
This is very strange, but interesting.
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Posted 12/28/13
The article was a good read. I think the main culprit is the complete washing of clothes process which may lead to a stronger body odor if not done properly. I can imagine the lazy/self conscious high school boys dousing their clothes with the chemical as if it's cologne. I would definitely buy a mask.
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16 / M / new york
Posted 1/28/14
.... interesting...
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30 / M / Sydney, Australia
Posted 2/27/14
The biggest issue is Japanese deoderants are simply sweet smelling sprays. There's no anti-perspirant in about 90% of the body sprays. On top of that, the Japanese are really weird about any kind of perfume or cologne.

The slightest smell sends some people into angry fits about how offensive it is to smell like cologne. Nobody says a word about smelling like old feet, though. On a crowded train, I'd take decent cologne over body odour any day, but everything smells like Axe.
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20 / M / Canada
Posted 6/3/14
I don't know if it's the same for Japanese as it is for Chinese, but if it is, then they don't really produce the same kind of body odour as Westerners. They're literally physiologically different in that aspect, and for the most part don't really have to wear any kind of deodorant. I had a realllly hard time finding decent deodorant in China myself, and my guess is that it would be similar in Japan. I never really noticed any kind of body odour, other than bad breath. If you didn't wash properly (which I can see happening to more than a few of those crazily pressured Japanese/ Chinese highschool students), then I suppose they'd smell just like everyone else. I doubt using a more fragrant fabric softener is really going to fix the issue. I know you're all stressed, but find time for a shower!
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