Apr 13, 2018
In Japan it's absolutely normal to wear a medical mask in public places. In Japan a mask is a useful and necessary thing of every day life.
When I came to Japan for the first time I was surprised and a little shocked when I saw many people wearing masks.
In Russia people wear medical masks only in special circumstances, for example in case of epidemy or when they want to hide something on their faces like bruise or injury. But Russian people don't wear masks when they have a cold or influenza, not because they don't care for others, just this custom is not familiar for Russians. And when you see a person in a medical mask in Russia, and there is no epidemy and the face of a person has no wounds it looks rather suspicious. Why did then he or she put a mask?! In other words in Russia the custom of wearing masks in everyday life doesn't exist.
Though there is no place for masks in Russian society, still on some special events, connected with Japanese culture, some people wear masks to enjoy Japanese atmospere and culture, for exampe on cosplay parties or J-fest events and so on.
These masks sometimes differ from those we got used to see on streets and public transport in Japan. They sometimes have a weird design and color. For example I saw a boy in a black mask, a girl in a mask with cat's mouth picture on it.
As for Japan, people wear masks with practical aims, I would rather say, that masks are necessary things in their every day life. Let's see on what occasions you may need a mask in Japan.
- If you are ill, it is better to wear a mask in order not to infect others. This is a reflection of Japanese traditional culture and politeness which I like and value so much in Japan.
- If you don't want to become infected from people who cough and sneeze around. Well, we should take care of ourselves by ourselves.
- If you have an allergy. I can not say for sure, but may be more than half of Japanese population wear masks by this reason. This is one of the most effective mean to avoid contact of your nose and throat with air full of flowers' and trees' allergens. Lots of people in masks of this category appear from February to May as during this period most allergenic trees, plants and flowers are blossoming, disturbing sensitive people.
- If you suffer from dry air you can use a mask. Some masks can help to moist your nose, throat and face they have special lotion or something like that in their texture. I was always told that Japan has extremely moist climate with 100 % humidity, but such situation is only in summer, in winter it is so dry so you have to use cream for body, face and hands every day in order not to have rough skin and damages.
- If you don't like the person you are talking to. I suppose, in this way Japanese express their despise to the people they don't like.
- If you feel ashamed or some guilt. This is how you can avoid people seeing you face.
- If you want to hide something on your face like bruise or injury.
May be there are some other reasons why Japanese people wear masks. But this cultural phenomenon exists in Japan and doesn't seem to disappear. I don't think that the custom of wearing a mask is bad, for me it is very convenient to wear a mask, especially in transport. But I noticed that I got used to masks too much and now I feel that I depend on them.
One day when I got off the train and as usual started walking home I realized that I was still in mask. I forgot to take it off! (I usually use a mask only in transport and take it off as soon as I go out of the station.) And at that moment I got frightened, because I understood that the mask became a necessary part of my life, so that I even didn't notice it. When I first started using masks in Japan I felt some kind of discomfort as I never used them in Russia, I was suffocating. But after wearing it for some months I got used to them and don't even feel something on my face. So it became a part of me...
Let's clear it up! what is the main fuction of a medical mask?
In my opinion it is one of the means of protection. Yes, first of all it is protection!
Protection from illness, allergens, somebody's curiosity, dry air, somebody you don't like and etc. Human being has always been protecting himself in order to survive. But, please wait! Isn't it too much to put on a mask to go outside just to do some shopping, walking and so on?
I admit, I've got used to masks too much and
probably lots of Japanese people got used to them too. We just forget to take off our masks! May be we should take off the masks more often, in order not to lose the perception of real life?
Hello everyone, how do you do!? I love Japan, full of green landscapes and flowers blossoming all year round. I would like to tell everyone about its interesting places, tasty food, beautiful beaches, and I hope that readers will find my articles useful.