Japanese mysterious habit - wearing masks around town
"Why are so many people wearing masks?"
That is the one question that ALL of my friends who visited Japan from overseas have asked me during their stay. More so than "Where should I go to eat the best sushi?" or "How do you say Thank you in Japanese?".
They all first wondered if we are afraid of an epidemic of some kind or of some disease, which makes me laugh every time. For sure, some people put on a mask to protect themselves from getting the flu or from exposure to air pollution, but not everyone with a mask is wearing it for these purposes.
The main ACTUAL reasons why people in Japan are wearing masks:
- To hide their face when they don't have make-up on
- To feel secure by hiding their face because they are shy around strangers
- To make their eyes look much bigger by hiding the rest of their face
- To hide their face when they feel a bit down or sad
- To hide their facial expression so that strangers cannot read what they are thinking
Some people have other good uses of masks:
- To protect from drooling when they sleep on the train
- To avoid strangers smelling their bad breath after eating garlicky food
- To avoid smelling salaryman's sake-breath on the late night train
I think girls hiding their non-make-up face is cute, but other reasons make me feel concerned. Japanese people are becoming poorer at interacting with others.
Main photo by Saikin Omoukoto