The struggle of the unfamiliar feeling of masks covering our face while the elastic tugs behind the ears, leaving scars is what we’re dealing with since the COVID-19 pandemic. But, did you know that it has been a tradition for the Japanese to wear surgical–style masks since the previous pandemic?
In 1918, when the Spanish flu hit the world, there was a surge in the use of masks in Japan. Before the pandemic, it was only used by coal miners to protect themselves from the coal dust.
During 1929-1989, the culture of wearing masks was adopted by many due to the rise of various epidemics. It, however, became a trend when pollen allergies were a common thing among the Japanese crowd.
In the US and UK, there is a stigma around surgical masks, that only the gravely ill require one, which also cautions other people to keep their distance. This is why the Japanese mask culture is quite anomalous attracting attention and questions like, ‘Why are you wearing a mask even when they don’t have a cold?’, shared Yukiko Iida, 43, the technology department chief at Environmental Control Center Co.
Everyday use of face masks is believed to be the reason why Japan is not hit as badly as other countries by the Coronavirus. The Japanese also believe in maintaining less physical contact all year round owing to the fact that diseases are spread by touch. Despite living in urbanized areas, Japan is quite famous for social isolation.
Very few young people live with roommates. The country’s culture is built around maintaining personal space whenever possible. For example, they greet people by bowing instead of shaking hands.
Now, let’s see the various uses of the face mask in Japan all year round –
Savior On No Makeup Days-
In a survey, one out of three women accepted that they have worn masks to hide their faces at least once because they were not wearing makeup.
To appeal to fashion-conscious young women, few companies are now using colorful designs that match their clothing or masks that make the face look smaller, a never-ending craze in Japan. Black masks, mainly for men, were a big hit at Tokyū Hands in early 2015.
No More Social Awkwardness!
Social anxiety/social awkwardness prevents many from living a normal life. Even a little trip to the nearby shop can feel like a huge task which gets your heart racing.
Young people in Japan use face masks as a defensive barrier due to social awkwardness. This helps them feel like nobody is judging them and can prevent any awkward and unwanted conversations.
Prevents Diseases and Allergies
As we all know, masks prevent bacteria or viruses from entering our body through the nose or mouth, if worn correctly. Apart from this, it also helps keep the dust at bay and reduce dryness of the throat due to pollution.
Standard masks that are used to block viruses or pollen from entering have filters made from non woven cloth and may often be pleated. Always remember to buy the correct size though!
There are many different kinds of masks for varied purposes, including those with wet filters to maintain moisture in the throat, which soothes the throat and helps it to fight the painful effects of colds or flu. There are masks especially made for bikers to prevent excessive pollutants from entering their lungs.
Even after the main allergy season which is from winter to spring is over, some people stock up these masks in summer to counter the effects of dehumidifying air conditioners. For people with glasses, it is a huge problem to wear masks as it results in fogging up the glass, which is why few masks are specially designed to prevent glasses from fogging up.
Masks can be pretty effective if worn with a seal over the nose, but equally dangerous if not maintained properly. They should be disposed off in a timely way and while removing it, make sure your hands don’t get contaminated.
Do you think it will be a good idea to adopt mask culture in India? It can surely help us prevent various epidemics in the future.
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