I admit, I used to be one of those foreigners who got creeped out by the sight of seemingly normal civilians wearing surgical face masks. Donning those masks seemed like an outlandish concept to me. On the other hand, my husband, a (handsome) germaphobe, couldn’t wait to move to Japan so that he could start using them regularly without judgment.
Alas, as time passed, I found occasions where I would ask my husband to use his mask. I eventually asked so much that he started carrying two. With the absence of social stigma, I got used to wearing one, and having an extra mask in my purse became a necessity.
Here are 5 reasons I wear surgical face masks:
1. It’s COLD. Think of this as an eco-friendly heater for your face. My breath keeps my nose, cheeks, and lips warm in the blistering cold.
2. Slack on Grooming. I have days when I don’t want to pay attention to how I look, but don’t necessarily want to expose others to my lack of grooming. Plus, hiding a huge pimple has never been easier!
3. Illness. Japanese people, who are sick, wear masks as a courtesy to others. When I happen see a sick person, without a mask, who is uncomfortably close by, I’m always glad to be armed with my own shield.
4. I smell something… funny. Living in Japan is a dream, but it doesn’t always smell like one. Whether I’m stuck on a crowded train with someone who has B.O. or I’m walking through a part of the city that reeks of urine, a mask helps to ward off those unpleasant odors.
5. To be left alone. In such a bustling city, being around so many people can get exhausting. Wearing a mask somehow makes me feel that I’m gaining personal space by becoming somewhat invisible. Plus, if someone tries to talk to me, I can just feign illness!
There aren’t many countries where casually wearing surgical masks are socially accepted. So while in Japan, I’m taking full advantage of this!