Why are masks in Japan

Many Japanese wear face masks - why actually?

A common image in the West is that of the average Japanese walking around wearing a face mask all the time in public, at work and at home. Just as if this had just come from the hospital. In fact, these are very present in Japan. Many Japanese people wear face masks, and not only in times of the year when the risk of infection with pathogens is particularly high.

The question arises, of course, why the Japanese wear these masks at all if there is no particular risk of infection? There is no single answer to this, but below we will show you a few perspectives from which you can better understand the popularity of face masks in the land of the rising sun.

Five reasons for the face mask

The following five angles will give you an understanding of why the Japanese wear face masks:

1. Health

One of the reasons for using face masks in Japan is health. The large Japanese metropolitan areas such as Tōkyō, Ōsaka and Nagoya are home to numerous millions of people who often live, work and spend their free time together in a comparatively small area. As a result, the risk of infection is higher than elsewhere, because you are constantly in contact with other people.

Since the post-war period, the Japanese have been encouraged to maintain a high standard of hygiene in order to prevent epidemics. This always starts with oneself and so advice on washing hands etc. is omnipresent in public. Failure to properly take care of one's own hygiene is considered disrespectful to one's fellow human beings. Many Japanese therefore wear face masks to avoid transferring their own germs to their fellow human beings and thus not to violate this principle of coexistence.

2. Protection from dust

In addition to preventing diseases, the masks are also worn by many Japanese to protect against dust and pollen. The latter are especially airborne in spring and most masks are able to block them and dust. The Japanese also often wear face masks when cleaning their house to protect themselves from harmful inhalation.

3. Hide flaws

However, the Japanese use face markers not only for hygiene and health. For many, face markers have also established themselves as a simple means of concealing blemishes on their own face that cannot simply be hidden with creams or the like. The masks take away the insecurity and discomfort from the wearer that they would otherwise carry around with them.

4. Fashion

It might seem strange at first, but fashion is also one of the main reasons Japanese people wear face masks.

Originally, face masks were also perceived as something embarrassing in Japan that people wanted to take off quickly after use. In 2003, however, the business chain opened rittai masuku (立体 マ ス ク, り っ た い マ ス ク) and heralded a change in the perception of the face masks. While these were previously primarily functional and functional, it was now gradually accepted that they could also be used as an accessory. Young people in particular have discovered face masks for themselves in this regard.

Over the years, the typical white disposable mask has received more and more competition from a variety of durable masks for permanent use, which are now available in all colors and designs. Nowadays it can even be considered attractive to wear face masks regularly, because there is something mysterious about these people.

5. Social insecurity

Many Japanese people wear face masks, not least because they avoid the eyes and judgment of others. Restraint is widespread and one does not want to offer a target for criticism. Wearing a face mask helps to build up an additional barrier between yourself and those around you. Especially for people with fears and a weak self-esteem, masks can provide protection that helps them in everyday life.

Of course, hygiene and health remain the main motivations for wearing face masks in Japan as well. But besides this, as shown, other reasons have emerged for the Japanese to choose to use a face mask. And it shows once again that the Japanese are particularly good at combining the useful with the pleasant. Maybe you will try one of these masks too?