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!
It’s not really socially acceptable in Norway either, but I wear one when I’m ill anyway because I don’t want to cause others to fall ill just from breathing air I’ve been breathing. Also, I go to culinairy school, so hygiene is extremely important, so if anything, it’s bonus points on my card for being hygeinic.
I just wanted to say thanks for the helpful advice regarding protective Surgical face masks: https://reellifegear.com
I love this post and thanks for sharing! You can learn something each and every single day of life!
Personally, I have no strong objection to people donning face masks if it pleases them. My only issue is the ones who think that because they have one on it gives them the right to sneeze, cough and hack without covering their mouths, as if the flimsy mask on their face is a magic force field.
Not that it’s great to be coughing and sneezing everywhere with a mask, in general it does prevent droplets of fluid from spreading: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/who-should-wear-a-mask-during-flu-season/
which is the same case in Taiwan!
Id always wear one when I was hungover or didnt have time to shave – its weird how those days seemed to coincide. They also make me feel like less of a gaijin – hat, sunglasses, mask, umbrella, so much Japanese.
I’d like one in America to avoid the 80,000 chemicals marketed as “fragrance”. They’re everywhere including now pumping them into malls to attract customers to the stores who sell these toxins.
Also, it makes you more attractive. I read a report a while back that wearing a mask highlights your eyes, while – you partially covered this – hiding any imperfections around the mouth.
No mention of those lovely people who love to share their gems by sneezing and coughing on other people’s faces? That’s my top reason.
Actually, that was included in her 3rd reason.
When I visited Japan something caused my allergies (which were bad enough as it was at the time) to flare up immensely, resulting in my having a dripping nose and sneezing almost non-stop for the first two weeks I was there. It was embarrassing, but I had to pretty much carry a plastic bag inside of my daily bag and packs of tissues with me so I could keep my nose from looking like a leaking faucet.
I always wondered whether some of the people around me on trains/elsewhere thought I had a cold and was being rude in not wearing a face mask to prevent me from infecting those near me.
I would love to wear the mask while being in my home country, it’s so disgusting when someone having a cold sits right next to you without one. But unfortunately almost no one has ever heard of that custom and if I were to wear one they would look at me funny and think I have a severe, deadly illness. 🙁
And here I thought that I’m the only person wearing a mask against the cold. XD It’s very convenient. I also wear it to avoid sick people. That’s my to main reasons. ^^”
As a foreigner in Japan, Japanese people stare a lot at me. It’s a bit annoying so I tried using a mask to blend in a few times. Not sure if it worked, but the personal space feeling was nice.
It’s terrible if you have glasses. It would fog up so much, well, the mask that I’ve warn.
I also find it “accents” one’s eyes, or brings attention to them, since that is all you see,, and one can notice how lovely a partner’s eyes are ,, lol
That’s probably why the mask has become a fashion item for girls especially. “look at my eyes, I’m cute right?” kinda motive.
I sometimes wear one in winter because the cold air is bad for asthmatics. Wearing a mask warms up the air before it hits the lungs, thus making it easier to breathe. Most people stare at me and I was almost sent home from one of my classes because the professor thought I was sick.
I always wear surgical mask when i operate on patients.
1,2 and 5 happens to me very often, so I couldn’t agree more.
Well said. These 5 reasons are enough to make people understand about it.
My girlfriend always carries her mask when she go to the center of the city.