Why do Japanese wear masks?

In Japan, many people wear face masks. Why is this? Is it to prevent getting an infection or is it that the wearer already has an infection and is protecting those around him….? (I personally highly doubt that!) Is the mask useful in protecting us against viruses or bacteria? (I also personally highly doubt that)

Apparently, people wear them to protect themselves from pollution and infection and to prevent the spread of any infection they might be carrying.

Whether this works depends on the type of mask.

There are three ways a mask is supposed to give protection:

  1. By providing a physical barrier by filtering the particles
  2. Stopping particles of a certain size from entering the respiratory tract
  3. By fitting around the face to prevent leakage of air around the sides.

To make these masks sell and not get boring, companies are calming the use of antimicrobials and claim to kill bugs on the surface of the mask. These haven’t been tested to see if they work and I highly doubt they do.

I am sure there is “some” protection by using these masks, but now we get to why I think Japanese wear these masks!

Firstly, let’s start with using these masks to keep your throat moist. I will admit I do this! Have you tried sleeping with a sore throat? It is hell and no one likes that. Here is your solution, wear a mask!!! It keeps the moisture in protecting your throat from dryness. 

Now this picture shows the opposite of what I previously mentioned. It is not dry, and I don’t know about you, but I love to catch snow in my mouth on a snowy day  so what is all that protection about? Are the Japanese brain washed that they MUST wear a mask?

Then we get these types of people that use masks so not to breath over works of art. You see this all the time in art galleries, but my question is why one member of staff does it, but the others don’t! So again, I am scratching my head.

Now we get to the other end of the spectrum where these are situations where you really should be wearing a mask, but of course we don’t. So, what is that about? In these photos you will see the abundance of smoke and how close these people are and even covering their mouth, but where’s the mask? Also, a child that is so close to a huge fire that believe me was very, very hot.

So yep, I still don’t really understand the mask thing. Sometimes people are wearing it for their own protection during flu season as they think it protects them (maybe 5%) and other times when you should really be wearing one, they don’t.

Article written by David
Photos by David


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