If you’ve been puzzling over why Japan is such a “mask-wearing society,” it’s not because they’re all super-OCD about germs. Here are six excellent Japanese reasons to wear a mask that have nothing to do with the dread COVID:
1 – You overslept
Because if this is your typical morning routine…
…you can cut your makeup time in half
2 – You woke up with the Godzilla of pimples
3 – Introverts gotta introvert
4 – You have to commute in this every day
In a country where commuters spend as much as an hour and a half, twice a day, smashed up against five strangers in a subway car, you need all the virtual privacy you can get. Whether you pretend to be asleep, buried in a book, or mesmerized by your phone, wearing a mask adds another layer of distance to the least private part of anyone’s day.
5 – It’s allergy season
Hey, wait, why do you have wear a mask if you have allergies? Allergies aren’t contagious!
But the people around you don’t know that. If you’re sneezing and sniffling, it’s considerate not to worry them. Even when there are no deadly pandemics around, Japanese people tend to consider other peoples’ comfort before their own.
6 – It’s the best fashion accessory ever
There’s definitely a mask for every outfit…
(A special tip o’ the pandemic mask to William Chandler, for reminding me of the otakus!)
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“Without question, the best book I have read all year.” —Susan Spann, author of the Hiro Hattori mysteries and CLIMB
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!