When pronounced “mo,” the Japanese word for “hair” implies productiveness. “Nimosaku,” which is Japanese for planting two crops in a year, is written in three kanji characters that stand for “two,” “hair” and “planting.”
“Fumo,” or “no hair,” means “fruitless” or “futile.” Incidentally, when I entered “fumo” as the keyword in a search of the database for recent articles run by The Asahi Shimbun, most of the stories I found had to do with the current state of Japanese politics.
Advertisements for hair growth products and hair augmentation techniques are everywhere. For "hair-challenged people" who have tried practically everything in vain, it must be great news that a team of Tokyo University of Science researchers are working on a method to regenerate hair from follicles.
The researchers extracted cells from hair follicles of normal mice and implanted them into the skin of hairless mice. The rate of successful hair growth after about three weeks was reportedly 74 percent. Body hair grew from body hair follicles, whiskers sprouted from whisker follicles, and all strands grew back even after they fell out. And human hair grew on mice that were implanted with cells from human hair follicles.
Developing the technology to proliferate cells is necessary for the regeneration of clumps of hair, not just strands. But some day, using one’s own genetic material to reverse hair loss may no longer be a dream. Once it becomes possible to grow one’s hair at will, even those who frown upon wearing a wig may consider seeking the treatment.
Takashi Tsuji, the professor who led the team, noted, “In about 10 years, we hope our technique will be part of routine hair loss treatment.”
Of course, we can also choose to accept hair loss as part of a natural process of aging. In a book from Fusosha Publishing Inc., Yuji Kotari, a columnist with thinning hair, asserted in a discussion with people like him, “Even after all our hair is lost, we still keep growing as human beings.”
Regaining one’s crowning glory is certainly one way to stop being self-conscious about one’s appearance and start living positively. But while it is always good to have choices, we should also remember that what really matters is who we are, not how we look. Life's changes up top are a message for us to improve our inner selves. It’s actually not a bad idea to aim for personal regeneration and productivity.
--The Asahi Shimbun, May 4
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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