There is a word in Japanese for the behavior of coworkers who annoy others with their pungent aromas – sumehara, or “smell harassment.” Corporations in Japan have started holding seminars on body odor etiquette for employees concerned that smelly coworkers will damage their image. Employees are told to follow a list of odor regulations, which also enlightens on causes of body odor and how to avoid inflicting sumehara on fellow coworkers and customers. Now, there’s an app to alert office workers when they stink – it’s called the No Sweat app.
A Japanese tech company is now selling a device which allows people to self-test their body odor into three categories of smell. The pocket-sized detector, connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that offers results in a discreet manner.
The device is called Kunkun Body, which means sniff in Japanese. It can be used to self-test for bad odor in four locations: under the armpit, behind the ear, around the feet, and near the head.
Early birds are offered discounts on the recommended retail price of 30,000 Yen ($265) with the devices set to be delivered by the end of 2017. For now, the company has no such plans to sell the device outside of Japan.
Kunkun Body isn’t the first device aimed at addressing smelly coworker problems. In 2016, Sony launched a portable aroma diffused called Aromastic, which emits a signature scent wherever the owners of the device go.
In Japan, whoever smelt it, dealt with it
Mandom Corp., Japan’s largest manufacturer of men’s personal care products, holds seminars on body odor etiquettes. Middle-aged and older men are often the target of such odor etiquette seminars as they stink, particularly those who are chain smokers. Companies like Mandom instruct employees in the art of remaining odor-free through Japan’s humid summers. Some have gone as far as addressing smelly coworkers in the workplace with a behavior manual.
Meanwhile, some companies now sell deodorant suits, Otoko Kaoru (man smell) gum which causes fragrance from skin to emanate when chewed, and odor-eliminating soaps to fight kareishu, which means old man smell.
A painstaking research found that 90 percent of Japanese men give off a pungent body odor noticeable to others nearby. Magazines contain a cacophony of criticism of pungent body odor of ojisan, which literally means “uncle” but carries a nauseating connotation of an older man who is socially inept and foul-smelling. Since the onset of odor etiquette seminars, there has also been an increase in the workforce of women.