Here is the third installment of In The Know’s quest in understanding Japanese culture.
I had been wandering in Kyoto when it first happened — probably not, but the first time I noticed. Mother, daughter and baby all wearing surgical masks. Since then I have seen tons of people wearing them.
However, I have never seen them being worn outside of a hospital only in Japan.
While I initially assumed Japan must be rash with sickness, I know the opposite is true with Japan maintaining one of the longest life expectancies in the world. Actually, the custom comes from the desire to wear mask to prevent others from catching the wearer’s cold, seasonal hay fever, or an overall feeling of under the weather. It is an act of spreading illness to others. What a concept.