Have you ever wondered if you have bad body odour but couldn’t the get people around you to tell you the truth? Well, such is the case of one Shota Ishida, the man behind the Japanese odour rating service: Odorate.
In 2016, graduate student Ishida didn’t get a lot of time to take care of his personal hygiene. As a result, he worried whether he was causing discomfort to other people due to his body odour.
His worry reflects a growing concern among the Japanese workforce: smell harassment. Although previously dismissed as an inconvenience, bad body odour is now being seen as a serious offense to others, subject to accountability.
To rectify this (usually involuntary) transgression, Ishida decided to analyze people’s body odour through science – and the sense of smell. An idea he called Odorate.
Odorate is a service that offers a comprehensive analysis of a person’s body odour. For 150,000 JPY (approx. 150 USD), the customer receives a white t-shirt by mail that they wear for a day and send back for analysis. The primary analysis is done through an “instrumental analysis by an analytical chemistry specialist” (Source:odorate) which includes the use of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This identifies the main chemicals in each individual’s body odour that causes them to stink.
In addition, human inspectors smell each shirt to offer a more descriptive diagnosis. While most people would find this work off-putting, it doesn’t bother Ishida. After all, he says, that this evaluation “is meant to be easily understandable, if brutal.”
Depending on the results of the analysis, Odorate provides a custom-made guide of helpful suggestions for lifestyle changes. They also recommend the use of easily available products to combat bad body odour.
Moreover, their latest product is a dedicated service for axillary (armpit) odour, called odorate AP. This includes a list of collaborating clinics that can provide the recommended medical treatment at a discounted fee.
Bad body odour: A stress-inducing problem
With body odour being such a serious concern to the Japanese population, Odorate has catered to more than 1000 people, women of 30 years and above being their main demographic. Teenagers, often prone to social anxiety, also use the service.
“For most of my adult clients, their anxiety begins in school, and dogs them throughout their lives, holding them back in their careers and even in romance. So if we can nip this in the bud early, it’s great.”–Shota Ishida, Odorate
Following the success of this service, Ishida is also considering a service to evaluate halitosis i.e. bad breath.
Japanese entrepreneur finds a niche offering scientific, “if brutal,” body odor analysis