Healthy Gadgets

Features - October 19th, 2007
Muji’s digital scale

by Robert Estel

Japan is known for being a country full of lithe healthy people, however, you may have noticed an “increase” in the size of some Japanese waistbands. While Japan likes to promote and show off popular models such as Yuri “Ebi-chan” Ebihara or Erika Sawajira, who help popularize the idea that super skinny is cute, the reality is that Japanese are slowly getting bigger and with an increase of Japanese people now having to purchase the dreaded “L” size comes the fear of “Metabolic Syndrome”. Metabolic syndrome is a set of conditions that can increase one’s chance of heart disease and/or diabetes.

While in America this is usually held to specific conditions, in Japan, simply having a large waist is enough to get accused of being metabolic. Primarily, what’s a person to do? First off, the best thing to do is to check how you stand on being metabolic and Japan certainly has all the gadgets to make you worry about your health, while at the same time getting you to do something about it.

First off, it is time to figure out just how much you weigh, and how much of that amount is fat. While you can walk into any major electronics store right now and find tons of gadgets geared for health, (Hint: they are next to the massage chairs usually, go figure), you are now able to find health gadgets in the most unlikely of stores. Take for example Muji, a brand that is popular for being simplistic and supposedly a non-brand (which is now a brand, but I digress). Muji has started selling a digital scale that will not only tell you your weight, but your body fat percentage and the amount of muscle that you have. Accurate up to 100 kilograms, it also allows you to enter and register data of four people at one time, making it easy to keep track of the size of your entire family if you are so inclined. And, as it is a Muji item, it comes in Muji simplicity with a grey and white scheme. Available online at or in Muji stores for ¥7,900.

So if you’ve discovered that you have one strike down for metabolic syndrome, what do you next? As living life in Japan can be stressful (especially the morning commute!) you might notice your blood pressure on the rise. Rather then trekking all the way to a hospital to get your blood pressure checked, just head to your nearest Bic Camera and pick up National’s wrist sphygmomanometer. The EW3039P runs for a suggested price ¥9,500 at Bic Camera, and allows for you to not only check and store one person’s data, but two, as well as comparing morning and evening blood pressure rates. It will also let you know when you are having an irregular heart rate as well.

So, if it looks like you are two strikes down for metabolic syndrome, then it’s time to cut back on the beer, get in on that Japanese diet and start using the best gadget of all: exercise.