Toys are no longer just child’s play in Japan, where an ageing population and expanding waistlines have spawned a wave of gadgets to help adults beat stress, battle the bulge or relieve loneliness.
From exercise assistants to dancing robots and nodding potted plants, Japanese toymakers are increasingly turning their attention to grown-ups as a growing market to make up for flagging sales to kids.
The shift comes amid increased efforts to get people into shape in a country where more than one-fifth of the population is aged 65 or above, a percentage expected to rise to 40.5% in 2055, according to the government.
“Toy companies are increasingly focusing on toys for adults due to health worries but also lonelier people as there are more single households as the population ages and fewer women marry,” said Sei Toyama, one of the organizers of Tokyo Toy Show. Tokyo in April passed a law that requires companies and local governments to measure the waistlines of their employees aged between 40 and 74 years old. If waistlines for men exceed 83.7cm and 88.5cm for women, they are categorized as having “metabolic syndrome” and firms will be financially penalised. In order to encourage workers to walk to the office instead of taking a cab, Bandai Namco Group has come up with the “Taxi Walker”—a pedometer that acts as a taxi meter with the fare appearing in real market prices.
For a 2km stroll, the base fare would come up as 710 yen (about Rs280) and increase by 90 yen for every additional 280m, showing users exactly how much they are saving by using their own two legs. AFP