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Wellness industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Wellness is a powerful and relatively new trend that is gaining momentum in wealthy societies like Japan. The subject is broad, spanning over various industries such as personal care and beauty wellness, healthy eating, fitness, preventative medicine, traditional complementary medicine, spas, and thermal or mineral springs. The general idea that wellness aims to promote the well-being of people is universal, but its manifestations are also based on cultural predispositions. The personal care and beauty wellness segment comprises the largest share of the wellness industry in Japan. Target consumers of most beauty services are mainly women, although men also started utilizing certain services in recent years, as gender stereotypes are questioned by younger generations. Traditional complementary medicine and the spa industry surrounding onsen are other large segments of Japan’s wellness industry.

Characteristics of the wellness industry in Japan – bathing culture  

One of the stereotypes regarding Japan that happens to be true is the country’s infatuation with hot springs (onsen). Japan has a well-developed bathing culture, attested by the numerous onsen facilities, and the high number of annual stays at traditional Japanese lodging facilities situated around onsen. Furthermore, public baths (sento) provide city dwellers with a bathing experience that is affordable, spacious and an enjoyable alternative to one’s bathroom. On the one hand, there is a geographical explanation for the hot spring hype: the geological activity in and around Japan resulted in the creation of many natural springs. On the other hand, historical and religious reasons probably also play an important role in the success of the thermal and mineral spring wellness industry. Japan’s indigenous religion, Shintoism, emphasizes cleanliness and purity, as well as the importance of connecting with nature. Hot springs offer the ideal environment to satisfy both these elements which are important in traditional Japanese culture.

Characteristics of the wellness industry in Japan – beauty segment 

A different defining characteristic of wellness in Japan is the dominant role of beauty in the industry. Spearheaded by Kao and Shiseido, the Japanese beauty industry (J-beauty) is world-renown. In Japan, the terms wellness and beauty are somewhat conflated. One possible reason is that physical and psychological well-being was (and still is) a popular and effective framing method to make cosmetic products and services appealing to customers. However, concepts like beauty and wellness are malleable, and the emergence of fitness clubs and yoga classes, as well as the expansion of workplace wellness, wellness real estate, and wellness tourism, are all suggesting that the wellness industry in Japan is taking steps to emancipate itself from the beauty industry. J-wellness, which, among other aspects, aims to integrate traditional elements such as forest bathing into wellness practices, seems to be the next episode among Japan’s success stories regarding cultural dissemination and intercultural influence.

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Wellness industry in Japan

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Beauty service demographics

Alternative medicine practitioners

Major spa companies

Major fitness companies

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