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Why the Japanese Wear Masks

Monday, February 16, 2009 / Posted by Zackary /

This is in response to my last Picture of the Day where there is a girl wearing a mask. One of my loyal readers thought it was because of the smog in Japan.

In China people wear masks because the smog is atrocious. In Japan they have a different reason. In Japan I have not noticed smog at all, even in Tokyo the city of cities. You don't get that fresh country air people love and which makes my allergies go crazy. Japan has some of the most beautiful country side you can imagine and the air is fresh.

People in Japan work hard and they work long hours. When they are sick what do they do? They go to work of course! If they are really sick they go to the hospital and skip work. The national health care system pays for their days off if they are under a doctors care. Children also go to school if they are sick. So all over Japan you see children to senior citizens wearing white surgical masks. Not all of them are white, Disney has a whole line of masks for children. You can buy masks in any convenience store and there are many different styles and types.

Have I worn a mask? A friend asked me to wear one once but it kept hitting and steaming up my glasses so I was not very happy. I have not had a cold for some time so I have not tried again.

I was here at least a year before I got used to seeing people wearing masks. If you want a challenging experience, try to teach English to someone speaking through a mask.




Comment by Peggy H on February 17, 2009 at 10:16 PM

Zackary...thanks for your posts...brings back great memories of living in Japan. I lived in Roppongi for 6 months in early 80s. Do they still have warm sake vending machines on the street? I miss the ramen houses with steam coming out and dancing in Harajuku on Saturdays. Do they still do that?

Comment by Bill Genereux on February 18, 2009 at 1:10 AM

Hi Zackary,

I also lived in Japan from 1987-1989. I was stationed on the USS Cochrane in Yokosuka.

As a died in the wool geek I always enjoyed visiting the Akihabara electronics district to see what amazing gadgets were available. I was hesitant to invest my money because you never knew if it would catch on back home. At the time, I could have purchased a LaserDisc player or a DAT tape deck, both were popular in Japan but never caught on in the USA.

I will also always remember Ueno park in the springtime during Cherry Blossom season.

Someday, I'd like to take my whole family to Japan for a vacation, but that's pretty far into the future if ever I'm afraid.

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