More Japanese youth wearing surgical masks to hide their face

More Japanese youth wearing surgical masks to hide their face

TOKYO —

First time visitors to Japan may be surprised to see so many people wearing surgical masks in public.

There are a few reasons for this, the most common being that they are sick and are wearing a mask to keep their nasty germs to themselves in consideration of those around them. Likewise, many people also wear a mask to guard themselves from whatever illness is going around. Others use it vainly to shield their faces from the onslaught of cedar pollen that descends upon the masses every spring.

Then there are those who wear masks because they’re self-conscious about the way they look or have something they want to hide, like a pimple or even their emotions.

In particular, wearing surgical masks for cosmetic and comfort purposes has become so popular among young people in Japan over the past few years that the media has begun labeling it as a “fashion trend.”

In March 2011, News Post Seven surveyed 100 people wearing surgical masks in Shibuya, Tokyo’s most popular fashion district, and found that roughly 30% of them were wearing them for reasons unrelated to sickness or allergies.

Adding to that data, earlier this month Japanese news program ZIP! aired a special about young men and women who wear surgical masks as fashion items, in which they counted the number of people wearing masks as they walked down a Tokyo street and found that the number has increased 14-fold compared to previous data.

ZIP! also surveyed the reasons why people who aren’t sick or have allergies wear masks. The results, beginning with the most popular answer, are as follows:

  1. They’re not wearing any makeup and want to hide their face
  2. To keep their face warm
  3. To make their face look small
  4. It comforts them
  5. To keep their throat from drying while sleeping

According to info-gathering site Naver Matome, some women see the mask as not only a way to cover up their face on a bad makeup day, but also as an accessory that can make them more attractive.

“It gives you a mysterious appearance since only your eyes are showing,” says one high-school girl. “Wearing a mask makes me look cuter!”

Some companies are even seeking to capitalize on this new fashion trend, such as Picomask, which has been selling stylish and colorful surgical masks since 2010.

Other testimonies by those who say they wear masks for the comfort it provides suggest that there is something psychologically deeper than self-image issues as work.

“I don’t want to show others my true self,” “Since my face is covered, people don’t know how I’m really feeling. It’s comforting,” and “I don’t like having to create facial expressions for people” are some of the reasons given by Japanese high school students who mask up regardless of the season.

According to Yuzo Kikumoto, author of “Date Mask Izonsho,” a book discussing why young people may have begun “hiding” behind masks in public, explains that many Japanese students wear a mask to keep them from standing out among the crowd: “They have an abnormal fear of showing who they really are to their peers.”

Others believe that having to rely on a mask to feel comfortable in public is a byproduct of Japanese youth becoming too accustomed to using e-mail and social networks to communicate with each other; they can’t interact with others unless there is a protective “wall” that offers them some degree of anonymity.

“The nail that stands out will be hammered down” is one of the better-known proverbs in Japan. Japanese are educated from childhood to but the group before their own interests, and many people feel reluctant to do anything that would make them stand out—the most famous example being the Japanese student who deliberately gives the wrong answer when called on during class for fear that “showing off” will lead them to be ostracized by their classmates. Surgical masks give these young people another way to blend in with the crowd.

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Source: Naver Matome, News Post Seven
Header Image: Stuck In Customs

RocketNews24

  • 0

    JeffLee

    Masks do seem a lot more prevalent now that in earlier years, and I doubt it's because there are more colds going around.

    "To make their face look small" Not surprising, as I knew a Japanese girl who had some of her molars removed so that her face looked smaller.

    Lack of sick days is also a factor. When you get the flu or bad cold, you're still expected to labor away at the office. Recuperating at home is consider "selfish."

  • 17

    Mirai Hayashi

    1. To make their face look small
    2. It comforts them

    Oh come on!!

  • 8

    JoshuYaki

    Its the perfect place for bacteria and viral spores to be harbored. Nice and warm, always humid

    Masks are there so that doctors don't get thier patients sick. Eg, surgery. It doesnt block the wearer from sickness.

    They make me claustrophobic Then again, I appreciate people who wear these when they are sick.

  • 7

    some14some

    “It gives you a mysterious appearance since only your eyes are showing,” says one high-school girl. “Wearing a mask makes me look cuter!”

    good luck boys !

  • 6

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    Maybe Veils will make a comeback in Japan.

  • 6

    combinibento

    Sounds like they're taking this one out of Michael Jackson's playbook. As an aside, this will also make it easier on their arms since they won't have to raise their hand to hide their smiles.

  • 2

    nedinjapan

    Lots of mental health problems in this society; and the sociologists trying to make sense of, while it needs the help of clinical psychologists ....

  • 12

    Maria

    “It gives you a mysterious appearance since only your eyes are showing,” says one high-school girl. “Wearing a mask makes me look cuter!”

    If they start wearing a niqab, that'll sort out their bad hair days too.

  • 13

    shinhiyata

    I agree with the above posters who incline toward a mental health aspect in this phenomenon. Japanese are raised with the Shinto concept/notion of magokoro (purity) ingrained into their consciousness. That's why they take their shoes off at the door. That's why they don't eat fruit peels. That's why every other TV commercial is for cleaning products. Surgical masks outside of a clinical situation are mass psychosis and paranoia. Boderline hikikomori on a societal level.

  • 8

    Vast Right-Wing Conspirator

    I think there IS some disturbing psychology behind mask wearing. Partly paranoia and hypochondria, partly social anxiety. I have asked students to remove their masks in class and they literally start shaking with fear and begin to tear up. Even when doing one on one speaking tests, with no other students present, they are extremely uncomfortable when asked to remove their masks.

    A lot of borderline people here...

  • -1

    HollisBrown

    ban masks

  • 3

    kwatt

    1. To prevent bad breath. Most people's mouth are stink.
  • -2

    AKBfan

    Weird trend.

  • 5

    Elbuda Mexicano

    I think they are cool! Especially on a crowded train here in TOKYO, rather everyone have a mask and keep their nasty coughs and shit from flying all over the inside of a crowded train, like the woman who coughed in front of me yesterday on the Chuo train, with out COVERING her mouth and I could feel her saliva etc..hit my hands!!

  • 3

    Samantha Ueno

    I actually identify with this, I felt more comfortable wearing a mask on the train, I would get less "gaijin" stares.

  • 4

    sdf_crew_member

    It's alike sunglasses just a modern veil.

  • 2

    Vast Right-Wing Conspirator

    I can understand it perhaps on a crowded train, or when walking on a very crowded street (less understandable). But when you get to work, to wear it all day? All it does is hold your own germs close to your mouth/nose, and give them a warm and wet place to live.

    It reminds me of how people in Japan often don't take their coats or scarves off when they enter a building. I understand outside was cold, but inside usually isn't.

  • 0

    JA_Cruise

    yes, I could sense that some people wore them for more reasons than sickness preventative measures, and this article sums it up. It is a bit sad that people cover up to hide their emotions. I suppose however I would much rather have people wear masks than spread 2nd hand smoking from cigarettes.

  • 7

    Matthew Simon

    I would like to wear Darth Vader's mask around at all times.

  • 6

    tkoind2

    I do agree that people in Japan are losing the ability to interact socially. And the web life here is taking priority over real interaction. But this mask thing is a symptom of a serious social problem.

    Now if the mask is to make you "kawaii" is it just one more reason to say that cute is a social plague in Japan. If it is to make you blend in, the hammer and nail thing, we can see the downstream of this thinking in the mediocrity of current political and business leadership here. Too many good nails have been hammered down.

    But if this is fashion, well.... that is just plain sad.

  • -8

    megosaa

    1. They’re not wearing any makeup and want to hide their face

    i have a better solution: get an axe and chop off your face.

  • 10

    WilliB

    Face masks are also the fashion of choice to hide faces from security cameras, e.g. when withdrawing money from ATM machines after robberies. I think the article forgot to mention that.

  • 1

    saidani

    It's alike sunglasses just a modern veil.

    Excellent point. Many people wear sunglasses as a shield to prevent showing their emotions or making eye contact with others. Perhaps this strain of psychosis is the same as masks. But it is doubtful that Westerners would admit to it. It's too easy to point fingers at "weird," "mentally ill," "psychotic" Japanese.

    Who cares if people wear masks?

    Face masks are also the fashion of choice to hide faces from security cameras, e.g. when withdrawing money from ATM machines after robberies.

    Or simply to maintain the privacy of their everyday legal activities from the snooping eyes of government, advertisers, and perverts.

  • 1

    Cos

    If they start wearing a niqab, that'll sort out their bad hair days too.

    That was roughly the initial role of a niqab. That and prevention from natural elements.

    Who cares if people wear masks?

    As Willi says, the police, also the riot police... I mean my mansion has invested in those high-tech cameras everywhere (except in my flat, but maybe it's only delayed and they'll install them next week) to know who are those wild youth that steals charinkos, kicks in bonsais and scratches the cars. No we have video of masked guys (wild oldies) doing all that. Not the case in Japan these days, but in France they get problems with people hiding faces with hoods, scarfs and masks entering peaceful demos in order to fight and do some looting. Idem for sports hooligans.

  • -6

    Urbanlegends

    Everybody's talking about baggism, baggism-thats the next step.By those words John Lenin meant to put a bag over your head that way nobody can judge you. Wearing a surgical mask doesn't totally cover your head but has the same effect some want to achieve. He was ahead of his times-anyway, give peace a chance.

  • 5

    saidani

    the police

    Unless someone commits a crime, they should not be bound to restraints on their liberty to appease the desires of the police or any authority. Japan is not France, particularly because multiculturalism has not infected the political class...yet. As for your mansion and car, it is your responsibility (or your landlord's) to protect them, not the greater society's responsibility to show you their face to ease your fears. Japan is not yet a police state though it is moving in that direction quickly.

  • -1

    WilliB

    Cos:

    " That was roughly the initial role of a niqab "

    No. The original role of the niqub was the same as its role today: To keep women in tents at all times. That is different from the surgical masks we talk about here.

    • Moderator

      Stay on topic please. Islamic dress is not relevant to this discussion.

  • 2

    2020Aizu

    It always puzzled me when I saw someone driving a car (alone) with a mask on. Maybe they're just having a bad makeup day.

  • 3

    shanabelle

    They look ridiculous...the only time you should wear them is when you don't want to share your cold with others.

  • 3

    poppler

    I wear masks mainly to keep my face warm. It's very effective especially when riding a bicycle.

  • 4

    Ewan Huzarmy

    "Japanese news program ZIP! aired a special about young men and women who wear surgical masks as fashion items, in which they counted the number of people wearing masks as they walked down a Tokyo street and found that the number has increased 14-fold compared to previous data."

    Great to see that Japanese TV producers are still scoring hits with their innovative, hard-hitting programming (sigh).

  • 9

    Ivan Coughanoffalot

    I can believe this, actually. I've got one student - been teaching him for three months - and I've never seen his face. The bloke is clearly some kind of social inadequate. There seem to be quite a lot of them about, judging by this article.

    “Wearing a mask makes me look cuter!”

    That's the kind of girl we refer to in England as a double-bagger.

  • 0

    mangosqueezesbanana

    some faces need them?

  • 1

    Amidalism

    Talk about insecurity issues. Not wanting to have to show emotions? I feel sorry for these people. It must be quite depressing. As for making them "cuter" - I suppose I can agree with that for some of these people who's teeth are discoloured and shoot off in every which direction.

  • -1

    Peter Payne

    Anyone else think advertising products that scare you with "there are viruses in your room right now! But this product can kill 98% of them" are a really bad idea? I am surprised they allow these on the air.

  • 0

    zichi

    Some clever person should come up the idea of adverts on the face masks or images like the face of a cat, dragon? Free face masks in return for the adverts.

  • 6

    Meguroman

    Been here 18 yrs and have never worn one. I can see if you have allergies and buy a good one that fits properly during allergy season but otherwise it seems like a waste of time (and looks ridiculous in my opinion).

  • 2

    Thunderbird2

    I actually identify with this, I felt more comfortable wearing a mask on the train, I would get less "gaijin" stares.

    When I was in Japan last month I had a cold, but never wore a mask... I would feel self conscious wearing one. As for Gaijin stares... I am a grey-haired, balding, blue-eyed Brit... even a mask couldn't hide the fact that I am not Japanese lol Not that I get stared at anyway. Most people on the train sleep and those in the street and shops have other things to look at.

  • 0

    Marilita Fabie-Fujisawa

    Weirdos! I dint understand it myself.

  • 2

    Tom DeMicke

    I can't stand the masks. They freak me out and give me the creeps. Can't they at least make them a color a bit closer to the skin? Yes, if someone is genuinely sick, I agree but some people wear them as part of their clothing. To wear them just to hide behind a "barrier" is so Japan-like. They're all about e-mailing and posting on Facebook but never talk in person. Don't like them.

  • 3

    IMijjasik

    I don't appreciate wearing a mask as a starting point to be a trend setter. It leads to a misconception that: 1. You are sick and or might be infected by a flu virus. 2. People might take it as a "stay away from me" kind of impression. 3. You might either be a criminal in disguise.

    For the beauty conscious, wearing a mask the entire day can: 1. Cause sweat, since it's not expose to air, moisture builds up and it starts to grow bacteria and starts it of with having a small rash, then develops into a people.

    1. The cloth of the mask itself (depends on what type though) can make your skin itch if not use to wearing it like a year or a week or even a whole day.

    2. Since you're wearing the mask for the entire day, chances are you might inhale such chemicals of from the mask and this might be dangerous since it passes directly from your nostrils to your brain. As much as possible, don't wear it too long.

    Japanese women are pretty without make-up, so there's no such thing as a "bad make-up day" if you're always well prepared. If you're too shy to stand out from the public crowd, then just don't stare directly at the eyes of people and just do what you want to do and go where you want to go. that simple.

  • 0

    IMijjasik

    it's pimple not people by the way*

  • 2

    Takuma7

    many people also wear a mask to guard themselves from whatever illness is going around

    They are not designed to protect the wearer from inhaling such particles. Wearing a face-fit tested respirator mask reduces the exposure of the wearer to potentially infectious aerosols and airborne liquid droplets.

  • 1

    tairitsuiken

    Masks ne... I always felt the actual benefit of these things was lost on most people. In Japan, you do as your peers and if your peers wear a mask intended for use in hospitals - so do you. No questions asked. Mask users here (besides looking like a bunch of germ phobics) seem to use masks more as an adult version of a kids blanket than anything else. And it looks so good too, when you ought to be home, but instead do some "gaman" and show your co-workers how much you really care about whatever company you work for.

    @saidani

    Japan and its people are "special" don't you know? Wearing surgical masks in public suits that special style well. You can't have the cake and eat it too. Either you're special or you're not...

  • 1

    tairitsuiken

    Speaking of masks, I saw a weird ( yes, weird) thing in Yokohama. Some of those bakery chais (forgot the name) seem to have the staff wear masks, butbif they wear masks you cannot see their forced smiles, so what to do?

    Thay were wearing some kind if clear plastic mask, covering the mouth, much like those surgeons wear when sawing rib cages. Now, the Japanese populace may think this is a good (and hygenic) way to do business but it is simple deluded and wrong.

  • 2

    Antonios_M

    One funny fact: even though I have never worn a face mask (while being healthy) and my girlfriend keeps wearing it every day when she commutes, she is always the one that gets sick more frequently. She always gets upset about that, but when I am trying to convince her that face mask does not provide an 100% protection against germs, she replies: "then why everybody wears it?" I guess crowd psychology thrives in Japan...

    On the other hand though, I am glad when people that are already sick, wear face masks.

  • -4

    saidani

    Japan and its people are "special" don't you know? Wearing surgical masks in public suits that special style well. You can't have the cake and eat it too. Either you're special or you're not...

    Most Japanese people are just living their lives like everyone else, including having cultural quirks that seem strange to outsiders. They do not think of themselves as "special" in the manner you suggest but are curious as to why foreigners feel compelled to criticize them and make fun of them because they are different.

  • 1

    tmarie

    I've got one student who shows up EVERY week in a mask. He's not sick, he doesn't have allergies. He gives presentations with it on (I don't have the heart to tell him he's an idiot for thinking folks can hear him but do mark him down for lack of being able to hear him), does partner work with it on. I have NEVER seen him without it. I asked him what it was able about and he couldn't give an answer. No shock that he's socially awkward.

    Numerous female students come in and when I ask why they have a mask on "No make" day. Japan really needs to do something about their lack of self esteem and their mental illness numbers as clearly there are issues with both.

  • -2

    hkitagawa

    Hi dear all, There is nothing strange using masks in Tokyo. Government planted too much Japanese Cedar around Tokyo area. In the spring it spread too much yellow pollen around the city and it sometimes causes serious allergic reactions. If you don't use masks you may be forced to take anti allergic pills that can be bad to the health. I use masks in the spring every year and I feel great. There is another option if you don't like to use masks. They sell a small device to put inside your nose. It is invisible and may filter as much as 99 percent of the pollen. In some cases, allergy can be fatal to your lungs.

  • 1

    Homeschooler

    A bit of self acceptance, a lot less vanity and superficiality and a little more emotional openness would go a long way to making Japan a lot happier place for all concerned.

  • 2

    ThonTaddeo

    Two things I'll say against these masks: (1) it becomes harder to recognize the faces of acquaintances that you only see rarely, yet people wearing masks often forget that they're a lot less recognizable with most of their face covered. The people around them then worry about the faux pas of not recognizing a person whom they're supposed to know. Also (2) it's harder to understand what people are saying when you can't see their lips move. People wearing masks should make a point of speaking more clearly to make up for that fact.

  • 3

    lucabrasi

    @IMjjasik

    Since you're wearing the mask for the entire day, chances are you might inhale such chemicals of from the mask and this might be dangerous since it passes directly from your nostrils to your brain.

    No it doesn't. Really, it doesn't....

  • 0

    tairitsuiken

    @saidani

    Oh, so they are different? From who? Everybody else? Or only Westerners? All other asians? Are they also different from Mongols and Koreans, people from which thei hail?

    The very sad truth is that this country has an identity problem, exquisitely manifested in youths wearing masks to "look cute" or "have a seemingly smaller face". You call it a quirk but it is more serious than that when young people hide behind a mask 24/7. there can be no comparison to wearing sunglasses in public - just a handful actually do that.

    @hkitagawa They planted too many Cedars? According to who? And why would they do that? This article was not specifically about hayfever season and what that brings. In other countries people go on there lives without using masks. Why is that?

    That

  • 0

    kringis

    So basically, 30% of young women wearing masks do so because of low self-esteem.

    I wonder whether now this fact is out Japanese men will take the initiative and go for it. After all, if these women think they're so ugly they need to wear a mask, they'll probably go out on a date with any old idiot.

    Wait, this is Japan...

  • 0

    LH10

    wow this is sad! i see it as lack of confidence. masks not cool. plus it could get dangerous ex: getting away with murder n stuff u know.

    It gives you a mysterious appearance since only your eyes are showing,” says one high-school girl. “Wearing a mask makes me look cuter!”

    lol made me laugh

  • 0

    LH10

    AMEN to tmarieDec. 03, 2012 comment!

  • -1

    Bakakun

    great.... as if they didn't all look alike already.

  • 5

    choiwaruoyaji

    I think part of the story behind this is "control".

    Young people in Japan have almost no control over their lives.

    In fact, they are almost completely controlled by their parents, teachers, society, social norms, etc etc

    In these circumstances, they start to resort to strange behaviors, in order to make themselves feel that they at least can manifest some sort of control, however small.

    One of these behaviors is extreme "petting' of mobile phones. It is the one item they have that they can exert almost full control over.

    Extreme mask-wearing is another aspect of this. Given their lack of freedom, another thing they can control is how much of their face to show to society.

    It is almost a kind of passive-aggressive behavior.

    It is ridiculous that they behave like this but I think Japanese society has pushed them into this corner

  • 0

    TrevorPeace2

    What an absurd paranoia! Could it be that Japanese youth would rather wear burkas? I can imagine what that will do to manga and other representations of adolescent culture. AKB48 in Islamic dress? Hmmm.

  • 1

    HonestDictator

    Yeah, hiding ones face as a means for hiding ones identity. Not as bad as a niqab but being worn for the same reasons. I'll never forget what a woman said during a debate about covering one's face, "You can't expect people to try to understand you if you put up a barrier between yourself and them." And remember 80% of communication is body language and facial expressions.

    If you're sick, or trying to prevent yourself from being sick its understandable.

  • 0

    TheDevilsAssistant

    “Wearing a mask makes me look cuter!”

    I met a lady in a Tokyo watering hole during a business trip there. I talked to her for a few minutes and she was able to carry a intersting conversation in english. I bought her a drink and when she pulled her mask down to take a drink....well....um....lets just say she should have kept the mask in place and made a little hole for a straw.

  • -3

    acmpath

    It is good wearing masks, I don't know whether it is a part of fashion in Japan but I think prevention is better than cure.

  • 2

    Balefire

    @tairitsuiken

    Although it's only one reason for the prevalence of masks, the over-planting of cedar here as an economic policy that later led to widespread allergies is very well known.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayfeverin_Japan

  • 1

    flygirl1221

    Is it too much to ask of young Japanese people to be ok with their faces, or the way they look? I had a girl in one of my classes who wore a mask all the time too. While yes, she wasn't the most conventionally attractive person, it just makes me sad that someone who is old enough to be in college would have such low self-esteem.

  • -4

    Delarapier

    They copy what some workers wear when they work around totaled nuclear power plants.It might just be a way to stay safe from Fallout.

  • -3

    duke

    vast right-wing:

    I have asked students to remove their masks in class and they literally start shaking with fear and begin to tear up.

    You might want to be a little more sensitive to the culture here. If those kids are sick, it's very rude to take off your mask. Seems like you are putting them in a VERY uncomfortable position, in front of all their peers no less.

  • 0

    LH10

    great.... as if they didn't all look alike already.

    LOL! NICE ONE Bakakun!!! xD

  • 0

    Jack Stern

    The receptionists at a hospital I often go to wear masks but the doctor I visit does not. I found it hard to understand the English accent of the receptionist because I couldn't see her mouth or hear her very clearly.

  • 5

    Simon Phillips

    vast right-wing:

    I have asked students to remove their masks in class and they literally start shaking with fear and begin to tear up.
    

    You might want to be a little more sensitive to the culture here. If those kids are sick, it's very rude to take off your mask. Seems like you are putting them in a VERY uncomfortable position, in front of all their peers no less.

    How are you going to conduct a lesson with students who are wearing masks?!?!? Culture my arse!

  • -4

    lucabrasi

    How are you going to conduct a lesson with students who are wearing masks?!?!?

    Don't see a problem.

  • 6

    Vast Right-Wing Conspirator

    Duke, with respect, being "sensitive" has nothing to do with it. I wouldn't ask a sick student to remove a mask, even though the mask does nothing to help their sickness. IMHO, it may actually exacerbate the situation by creating a warm and moist environment around the mouth for germs and viruses to thrive in. People who are that sick should stay home.

    I'm talking about students who wear masks for no discernable reason other than being, I don't know, reclusive. It is hard to teach oral communication and pronunciation to a person whose mouth is not visible, and is being hindered by a flap of cotton in front of it.

    I don't single them out in front of everyone, yell at them, or tease them. Just ask them nicely to remove it so that we can try to have a conversation, and so that I can try and see if they are actually learning anything in class.

    Frankly, it's time they grew up and stopped hiding behind masks, cell phones, anime, and other useless junk.

  • 1

    tmarie

    Three masks today - all "no make" days.

    Vast, you evil teach you. Asking them to removing masks in class! Tsk, tsk! ;)

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy2

    What if I, the teacher, wore a mask over my mawser during class. Would students find that a problem? Wearing the mask on the other face.

  • 0

    keika1628

    The older talanto on TV should wear these. Can't stand looking up a J-nose on my big screen

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy2

    Masks don't make your face look small. It just makes your face look like you've draped a piece of paper over the lower half. Not very attractive, although I have seen a few "Hello Kitty" masks that looked ridiculous, yet at least were a change from the white rectangle.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    What if I, the teacher, wore a mask over my mawser during class. Would students find that a problem? Wearing the mask on the other face.

    I wore one last Thursday. My son's got pneumonia and I was starting to cough a bit; didn't want to infect any students. I explained, they understood, the lesson went as normal. As I said, I really don't recognise a problem here....

  • 1

    Cos

    What if I, the teacher, wore a mask over my mawser during class. Would students find that a problem?

    Oh why ? I don't teach myself, I'm just an assistant. The actual senseis are a pair of ningyo that speak, smile and move and sometimes eat one another.

    the lesson went as normal.

    That says something about the lesson. But that depends on what subject you teach. If it's sign language for scuba-divers, that's normal.

  • 0

    BuzzB

    I'm hearing impaired and read lips. If you are wearing a mask don't expect to strike up a conversation with me any time soon.

  • 0

    deepstar6

    Found one more reason to wear mask --- BAD BREATH

  • 0

    deepstar6

    Is wearing masks a tradition in Japan? If not, sooner or later it will be.

  • 1

    annemarie08

    I think it is a bit creepy and the only reason people should wear them is when they have a cold and that`s if they really have to (I even find it creepy then).

    Parents really need to work with their children to make them more confident about communicating with the outside world. Hell even with their own parents!! But then their peers and eventually the adult world. But what do I know. Im not a parent. Actually no you dont have to be a parent to work that out.

  • -3

    ka_chan

    It would have been nice if the article mentioned the origin of wearing surgical mask. My guess is that it dates to the 1918 (Spanish flu) pandemic that killed 25% of the world population. Japan being Japan, once you start something it just continues. The reason for wearing it in 1918 was not so much for to prevent spreading it, since if you caught it on a train, you may be dead before you got off. It was to help prevent catching it. Even today, the US CDC still recommends the use of surgical masks during epidemics/pandemics. 20 years ago, you just saw plain white mask but today you have a fashion of masks and most people would not be able to tell why they wear masks if they are sick. It's just what you do. Considering the state of Japanese dental care, I'm surprised that more people don't wear one. :)

  • 0

    joewein

    @kachan: The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 didn't kill 25% of the world population, more like 1-3% according to different estimates (20-50 million out of 1.8 billion). The rate you quote is only the estimated infection rate, but most infected survived. "In Japan, 23 million persons were affected, and 390,000 died." (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/13/4/06-0615article.htm)

  • -3

    saidani

    Oh, so they are different? From who? Everybody else? Or only Westerners? All other asians? Are they also different from Mongols and Koreans, people from which thei hail?

    Apparently, different from you as you seem so willing to criticize them because they are different. Why the great need to make Japanese like everyone else in the world? The Westernization of Japan has not been wholly beneficial for the Japanese people or their culture.

    The very sad truth is that this country has an identity problem, exquisitely manifested in youths wearing masks to "look cute" or "have a seemingly smaller face". You call it a quirk but it is more serious than that when young people hide behind a mask 24/7. there can be no comparison to wearing sunglasses in public - just a handful actually do that.

    The people do not have an identity crisis, but a crisis of insecurity and guilt which the West (particularly the US) seems intent on encouraging.

    As for sunglasses, I would much rather see a person's eyes (windows on the soul) when talking to them than their mouths. People hide much more behind sunglasses than by wearing a mask. And you have no basis for claiming that only a handful of people wear sunglasses in the West other than trying to diminish the comparison.

  • 0

    Tessa

    I sometimes hide behind sunglasses, but I would never dream of wearing them indoors, or at work.

    A few years ago, during the swine flu panic, I was ordered to wear a face mask on the job for a whole week. It was the most uncomfortable week of my life.

  • 0

    T-Mack

    Where's my mask I feel self conscious today?.....now let's see, oh, here it is... today... I will be the lone ranger EMT...plus no one will get me sick, and it's very stylish!!!.... Give me a break.....Style can walk a mile...

  • 2

    whiskeysour

    Men should wear them when they are coughing and hacking all over the place.

  • 1

    timtak

    "They’re not wearing any makeup and want to hide their face" Too true. My female seminar students this year (second years, aged 20) wear masks when they have not had time to put on their makeup (is that all one word?). Such are the demands of GAL (gyaru) and semi-GAL influenced fashion trends that require so much cosmetics, that "suppin" the makeup-less situation is so embarrassing hat peopled want to wear a mask.

  • 0

    ensnaturae2

    Errors in examining 'reasons' for human behaviour from the limitations of a base of any particular culture(s) become clearer in consideration - of such a globally pop activity as mask wearing, with a long; recorded, ancient history. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/367906/mask/9059/Social-and-religious-uses

    Face covering produces a wide variety of effects that might only be surpassed by talent & careful training in theatre. The French, possibly by bitter experience, & well aware of potentials, banned all face covering entirely by their 'Loi interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l'espace public, ("Act prohibiting concealment of the face in public space") Not sure if that meant I was breaking the law today - entering France via the airport, wearing the biggest anti-booger, emotion concealing, complexion protecting mask I could find, and wondering why EVERYONE doesnt wear a mask, among winter germ carriers, harassed by delays and confrontations, in any confine/crowded space.

  • 0

    22cowboys

    in Japan these masks probably make it tough on their paparazzi. before the surgical masks boom, celebs just wore sunglasses, now that they can cover their mouths and noses, too, without looking too out of place!

  • 1

    Ichiro20

    One thing I like about japanese women is that, they are beautiful being natural. I could never compare japanese women to a korean women since there was a survey in the net that 90% of korean population has undergone plastic surgery. And most of the women gets "cash gift" when they reach the age of 18 just to have plastic surgery on their face if they find it bad.

    So please Japan, stay Beautiful and natural. Never ever edit your face. XD

  • 0

    serendipitous

    I remember an ANA pilot friend saying that pilots generally don't wear sunglasses because they gradually make your eyes weaker. My theory with masks is the same, they actually make you more susceptible to germs and pollen etc. so you end up having to wear them all the time (sunglasses too). A good doctor friend also says that he never wears a mask at his clinic because he thinks it's impolite to patients. Over time doctors rarely seem to get sick because they are bombarded with viruses and bacteria every day so they build immunity. I reckon we need to suck up the air and get used to it (and the air in Tokyo is far better than it used to be). As for people wearing masks for other reasons, totally up to them but it does seem to suit some people who like to hide a bit from the real world. I occasionally wear a cap or beanie to pop down to the convenience store when I haven't had a shower in the morning and my hair is looking a bit wild. Guess it's a similar kind of thing.

  • 1

    KnowBetter

    shinhiyata

    "That's why they take their shoes off at the door."

    No, I'd call that common sense and not a Shinto thing. I mean who wants the dirt and dog crap of the world brought into your home. I see American and less so British TV shows where people walk right into houses and flop themselves on to the sofa or bed wearing their street shoes and I think that's just so gross. Would you lie down in the street or sidewalk or even on a train or subway platform?

  • 0

    KnowBetter

    Oh and by the way those mask make some Japanese girls have the sexist eyes I have ever seen. I'd say that in some cases those makes make the wearer seem way hotter because of the mystery and that is sexy not to be confused with what Americans call sexy which is blatant in your face, nude body being danced around with nothing left to the imagination.

  • -1

    interuni321

    The dumbest thing about surgical masks is that they provide no protection from viruses or pollen at all! The air along with the viruses and pollen goes straight around the outside. Furthermore in almost all cases, colds and other viruses are not caught via the air, but are transferred when you touch things like door handles and then rub your nose or eyes.

    If wearing masks actually worked I wouldnt have a problem, but its based on false science.

  • 0

    interuni321

    In the US and UK young people wear hoods to cope with their agoraphobia. What we really need is a more accepting society and better care and consideration of people, especially teenagers who are put under immense pressure and are very sleep deprived by the Japanese education system and later working culture.

  • 0

    interuni321

    Its pretty annoying that some people believe masks actually prevent pollen from reaching their nose and eyes as these people therefore think they can get away with not taking hay-fever medicine. Then they suffer uncontrollable coughing and sneezing on the train and cough and sneeze over everyone else. Its disgusting, forget the masks, go and get proper medication! NB There are some masks which can filter pollen and seal around the face (they are called disposable respirators), but they are more expensive and they won`t protect your eyes from pollen. Water build up will be greater as well.

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