Why Japanese wear masks

If you’ve been to Japan, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of Japanese cover their nose and mouth with a mask. This might appear very strange for a westerner.

Face masks in Japan

Face masks in Japan

For a while ago I escorted some Japanese friends to a hotel and when the woman behind the desk saw them wearing masks, she kind of gasped and asked me: “Why are they wearing masks? Do they have a dangerous disease?”

She obviously thought they had some really contagious and nasty illness and got scared. But it’s rarely that bad.

There are several reasons behind the masks:

* You are sick and wear a mask to prevent transmissions of germs to others. It doesn’t concerns any deadly illness though, you might just have a slight cold and in Japan it’s a courtesy to others to wear a mask to protect others of getting it too. Walking around coughing and sniffing and NOT wearing a mask is really bad manners.

* You are allergic. Unfortunately allergies are very common in Japan and the masks are helping.

* Protect yourself from others germs. Maybe people at work are sick? This reason is mostly nothing people like to admit though.

A Japanese friend of mine also told me once that the mask keeps the skin moistened and protects the face from dry air.

Seems like some pretty good reasons to me! Well, I bought a pack of masks when I was in Japan last time and was eager to wear them at home, when needed, but people had such big problems with it so I stopped. In other words, wearing mask in Sweden is not as acceptable as in Japan. ^_-

Face masks in Japan

Face masks in Japan

Categories: Customs

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