When I first came to Japan, I was shocked to see people wearing surgical masks in public. The first time was when I was on a train. I looked around to see if anybody was looking at the middle aged woman but spotted nothing. The only conclusion I came to was that she was a doctor - but she didn't look like a doctor and even if she was - why on earth was she wearing a surgical mask on the train?!
I soon learned that people wear masks for a few reasons...
- They are sick and don't want their evil germs to infect others.
- They have hay fever and don't want the evil pollen to affect them.
- They are not sick but don't want to catch any evil germs from others.
- They have a tooth missing and want to cover it up.
- Their breath smells like a fart and want to diffuse the smell. [li] They have no mouth and don't want people to know that they are from Mars.
This poor chap above is being a good citizen and wants to keep his germs to himself - thus the mask.[/li]
You will also see many people wearing masks during April when the hay fever season hits. I have bad hay fever too but wear a respro mask instead.
Is this mask culture specific to Japan? I've never seen people wear masks in public back in England.
Photo taken during my times at Microsoft Japan.