Why isn’t Wellness Popular in Japan?

May 20, 2024

Wellness is indeed a thing, but it’s not as popular or as prominent a movement in Japan as it is in other countries. Not as many companies support it as they do sustainability, but how come? Dive in to find out why as we explore the Japanese domestic mindset.

The definition of wellness, according to the Global Wellness Institute, is “The active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health”, basically the opposite of illness. GWI also announced that Japan’s wellness market is the 4th largest in the world, with the United States, China, and Germany in front. As large as it is, the society is still not as adapted to the idea. If you do a Google search by “ウェルネス”, one of Japan’s largest pharmacy or drugstore comes at the top of the search. A page explaining what wellness is, comes at the third option from a page on the Ryukyu University’s website. That’s how well known wellness is.

Why has sustainability come in, but not wellness? The answer is in the Japanese culture. Wellness itself is a great mindset, but basically it is saying “do the right thing to stay healthy” like eating a proper diet, having some exercise, or getting enough sleep and don’t stay up too late. Taking the United States as an example as they have the largest wellness market in the world, they do not have an annual health check requirement. In Japan, if you’re working and healthy, you are required to take a health check every year by law(労働安全衛生法). This is helping the society have an awareness of health and wellness itself, and there is no need for a word or document to help them be well.

Then how can one incorporate the idea into a Japanese office? The answer is, to give specifics. The word wellness wouldn’t pull the trigger much, as ウェルネス is a very western, businessy, fancy, global, and new idea to the Japanese everyday people. But by showing them what you do as wellness, perhaps like “I’m trying to cook three times a week” “Taking a walk every day” “Doing some stretches twice every day” may. Tell them it’s for being healthy, and the total act itself is an idea called wellness.

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