Located in Kyoto is the headquarters of hair styling product maker Nakano Pharmaceutical. This company is well-known for something besides their high quality hair care gels and sprays and confusing name. They are one of the few companies to almost completely eliminate everyone’s favorite sitting device, the chair, from their facilities.
In its place staff and visitors are treated to a wobbly seat on those large plastic balls often seen in Pilates classes.
The idea was the brainchild of company president Kotaro Nakano (52) who was recommended the balls by his fitness club. They told him the exercise balls would strengthen his back muscles and alleviate his lower back pain.
In the beginning only Mr. Nakano and his secretary perched themselves on the plastic bubbles, but after his back pain had vanished he made it the standard seat of the company.
All rooms in their Kyoto headquarters, Tokyo branch office, and factory in Shiga are equipped with a total of 400 balls measuring various sizes at a cost of around 2,000 yen a pop.
It’s not a total replacement though. If you want to have a good old fashioned sit the laboratories which handle chemicals are ball free for obvious reasons.
The actual health benefits are still uncertain, but most research seems to confirm that at least there isn’t a negative health effect of sitting on giant balls. It just kind of looks funny.
However, according to one 28 year-old female employee in the marketing department; “I feel like my posture improved. It’s easier to move and get ideas this way.”
This is one of the many health initiatives of the company including a total smoking ban on company premises (unusual for Japan) and a no-elevator/stair-only policy.