October 25, 2022
Tokyo — A woman with an incurable disease started making and selling custom fingernails made from plastic waste she collected on her local beach.
Naomi Arimoto, a manicurist, said, “I want people to know that anyone with a disability can fulfill their dreams and contribute to society.”
Arimoto, 40, was diagnosed with HTLV-1-associated myelopathy (HAM) in 2014 and now uses a wheelchair.
The virus causes inflammation in the spinal cord, damaging nerves and causing symptoms such as progressive leg paralysis. It is estimated that there are about 3,000 patients nationwide with intractable diseases designated by the government.
Arimoto initially quit his job at a welfare facility and refrained from going out due to illness. She was then encouraged by her husband and her three children to “be a cool mom who uses a wheelchair,” and she got a job at a local company. But she quit her job after a year because she felt uncomfortable in the institution and she was at a loss when she became disabled.
During this difficult time, Arimoto found solace in her hobby, nail art. She decided to improve her nail-related skills and open her own salon. In 2018, she opened her own salon “Plumeria Nail” in Chigasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Realizing that there must be people with disabilities who want to go to a nail salon, we have created a barrier-free facility with no steps.
Plastic waste in oceans and elsewhere is harmful to ecosystems. In Japan, it is estimated that approximately 20,000 to 60,000 tons of plastic waste is generated annually. Last March, when he first attended a local beach cleanup in a wheelchair specially designed to run on the sand, Arimoto noticed countless pieces of plastic waste, including debris from containers.
That’s when I thought about using plastic to make push claws and turning the collected waste into something else. Mr. Arimoto draws a pattern on a piece of plastic and decorates it to make the “world’s first” pressing nail.
Arimoto started selling custom-made nails in May, and expects that “there will be more opportunities to think about the employment of people with disabilities and environmental conservation.”
Arimoto’s false nail set starts at 8,800 yen (tax included).