Japanese women snap up female-friendly massage chairs

When the first home-use massage chairs appeared in Japan's electronics stores three decades ago, they were clearly designed to ease the aches and pains out of the shoulder and limbs of the master of the house.

They were large - so large, in fact, that they dominated small Japanese living rooms - and were made of male-friendly leather. Some models even had built-in ash trays for a tired salaryman's post-dinner cigarette.

Japanese society has undergone a major change in the last 30 years, however, and today it is young, single women with high disposable incomes who are driving consumption.

And consumer electronics companies that produce such luxuries as massage chairs have caught on to the new trend.

"We have deliberately set out to attract young women with this range of chairs and we want the product to be seen as more of an item of interior deign than an electronic gadget," Yuko Hosaka, a spokeswoman for Sanyo Electric Co., told Relaxnews.

"Our HEC-L20 series is smaller and comes in a range of bright colors, while it is also much more affordable than the larger versions," she said.

The HEC-L20 was launched in October and retails for a mere Y60,00 (€507.37), a substantial reduction from the Y200,000 (€1,691) that one would expect to pay for a conventional model. Top-of-the-range versions can sell for double that price.

The company was able to keep the price down by doing away with massage balls that are built into the back of other models and replacing them with air bags that apply pressure to the lower back, hips and buttocks. Sanyo has also reduced the scale of the gadget so it stands just 89 cm high and is less than 60 cm wide.

"We wanted something that was affordable but still performed most of the massage functions of larger chairs and we have been very pleased with how the product is selling," Hosaka said.

Panasonic Corp. was arguably the company that triggered the trend for sleek, female-friendly massage chairs, releasing two models in May of last year that have gone on to become hit products. In 2009, around 60,000 units were sold, accounting for fully one-quarter of total domestic sales of massage chairs in the previous year.

And despite the declining economy - or perhaps even because of the economic difficulties that Japan has faced over the last two years - sales of massage chairs climbed 15 percent last year.

JR

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones