From Social Robots To Second Skin, J-Wellness Offers An Innovative Approach To Thriving

December 6, 2021

Japanese cherry blossom in front of a pagoda

Long considered the leading experts in wellness, balance, and serenity, Japan is expanding its definition of wellness by infusing the old with the new. 

The rising popularity of J-Wellness is the result of tech and tradition coming together in the Japanese wellness industry, coupled by a Japanese aging population rising at a startling rate. It’s healthy aging, high-tech, and historical practices all coming together to create a society with balanced minds, bodies, and souls—and it may very well be the future of wellness as we know it. 

The Origins of J-Wellness

Considered a “super-aging country,” 27% of Japan’s society are over 65, with a projected 70% retirees expected by 2050.  

As Japan’s aging population reaches new heights, living well and aging gracefully are at the forefront of the Japanese wellness industry. Inspired in part by Japanese’s emphasis on ikigai, or the space where passion, mission, profession, and vocation all come together, J-Wellness centers on a balanced life that inspires, rejuvenates, and brings peace.

While J-Wellness encapsulates a wide-range of wellness practices within Japanese cultures, several practices stand out as key elements to the J-Wellness movement. Read on to discover three main components of J-Wellness to feed your soul.

Incorporating J-Wellness Practices for A Prosperous and Peaceful Life

Anti-Aging Beauty Regimens, Simplified 

From the natural to the fantastical, Japan’s anti-aging beauty industry, also known as J-Beauty, puts an emphasis on simplicity and longevity. 

According to dermatologist Anna Guanche, a standard Japanese skin care routine includes hydrating lotions, oils, SPF and facial massage or face rollers to stimulate natural skin repair. 

Double-cleansing is another popular J-Beauty method, which is a skincare routine that starts off with an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based one. After the cleansers are applied, J-Beauty emphasizes double moisturizing with an essence followed by a cream. This four-step process optimizes skin care hydration for a bright skin tone and the elimination of sun-related damage.

Looking into the future as beauty routines become more and more advanced, one Japanese company, Fine Fiber Technology, is now offering a nighttime membrane, or second skin, called Future Skin that protects against dryness and can be analyzed via an iPhone app to reveal your skin’s health. It’s just one of the many ways that Japan continues to innovate with new technological advancements. 

The Rise of Social Tech

Once considered a dystopian nightmare, the rise of social robots and robotic pets may very well now be the cure to human isolation and loneliness so often felt by aging and sickly populations.

Sony’s Aibo is a robotic puppy, powered by AI and tested to treat stress and anxiety in children hospitalized at the National Center for Child Health and Development in Tokyo. 

PARO, a seal-like AI-driven social robot, is another robot developed in Japan linked with therapeutic benefits. Utilizing tactile, light, audio, temperature and posture sensors, PARO can perceive its environment and mimic animal therapy benefits for aging populations and those in need of animal care. In a scientific review of PARO, the benefits of PARO include a reduction of negative emotion, an improvement of social engagement, and a promotion of positive mood and quality of care among users. 

While cost and social stigma concerns still remain barriers among the rise of this sort of social tech, these sectors will likely only continue to rise as science and research around it progress. 

Embracing Nature

By infusing tech with tradition, J-Wellness also incorporates the slow, the meditative, and the natural. Key elements of J-Wellness include forest-bathing, hot spring baths, and nutrient-rich foods that are lower in calories, additives, and sugar. 

Linked with improved cardiac health, reduced blood pressure, lower stress levels and more, forest-bathing is an essential part of Japan’s wellness practice and a central part to aging gracefully. Beyond that, Japanese wellness culture also puts a high value on social connection, exercise, and play.

How To Incorporate J-Wellness Into Your Wellness Routine

While this article intends to be a celebration of J-Wellness and it’s forward-thinking advancements to the wellness industry, there is often a fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. Known as ‘White Girl Wellness,’ the wellness industry has historically profited off the practices and spiritual beliefs of other cultures for decades, creating a culture that consumes what once was sacred.

As J-Wellness continues to rise in popularity, consumers can do their part in respecting Japanese culture and tradition by researching Japanese-owned J-Wellness beauty companies and divesting from wellness businesses and retreats that commoditize and profit off of traditional Japanese culture.


What’s your favorite J-Wellness innovation?


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Photo: Bagus Pangestu via Pexels

Dana Drosdick
Dana is a marketer living in Saratoga Springs, NY with a passion for all things related to stewardship, faith, wellness, and personal enrichment. Her work has been featured in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, The Odyssey Online, and The Banner Magazine. Follow her at @danadrosdick on Instagram for foodie trends, her latest book recommendations, and far too many photos of clementines.


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