“It’s terrible,” says Takeda Hisashi, a jewelry salesman in Tokyo. “As soon as hay fever season hits, my eyes and nose swell up, and it’s as though my entire head is plugged with cotton.”
Japan has more hay fever suffers than many other countries. The reason maybe a Japanese genetic propensity towards hay fever. However, there is no question that the ubiquitous Japanese cedar, sugi in Japanese, which is found in every nook and corner of Japan, is the cause of utter misery for countless hay fever suffers in Japan. Starting in early spring, the sugi releases clouds of microscopic pollen into the air, and continues throughout the entire hay fever season.
“I’ve always heard about the huge clouds of pollen that sugi releases in the air,” Hisashi says. “But I was astonished when I actually saw it.” Early one morning out on a walk in the countryside, Takeda saw billows of pollen rising from sugi trees on a nearby hill.
“It was as though smoke or a gas attack was rolling off them,” he says. “The pollen was released in dense clouds. I stopped right there and got back to Tokyo for my hay fever medicine as quickly as I could.”
Hay fever medicine can help the symptoms of hay fever, but some of the best ways to avoid severe attacks are the simplest: wear face masks and clothing that pollen can’t stick to. The only catch is to know when the pollen is coming so you can be prepared.
If you live in Tokyo, which is hit by pollen as bad as anywhere, at least you’ll know in advance. Tokyo now has an Internet home page devoted solely to the sugi pollen condition to help hay fever sufferers. Tokyo has 18 monitoring stations throughout the entire city to report on pollen levels, when the pollen starts, its intensity and concentration.
Unlike the pollen broadcasts you see in the news, which cover several prefectures or broad geographic areas, the Tokyo pollen broadcast, which is compiled exclusively from these locations within Tokyo, is local and not part of the news, its sole purpose is reporting pollen from sugi trees.
“The release of pollen started this year on February 16 in the Tachikawa district,” according to the Tokyo City site, “Due to the cold weather, the pollen released was delayed by more than a week from last year.”
Since then the amount of pollen released in Tachikawa had reached high above discomfort levels for two days as the weather began to warm up. Trees in other parts of Tokyo will release pollen to add to the distress of hay fever suffers.
The city of Tokyo is predicting that this year is going to be a rough one for hay fever victims, and it is possible that as much as eight times the normal amount of pollen will be released.
You can follow the sugi pollen condition at http://www.fukushihoken.metro.tokyo.jp/kanho/kafun