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Japan's ‘mask culture’ looks bizarre to the rest of the world

21 8 0

Every day, I notice a growing number of commuter train passengers wearing a face mask.

Looking around the car yesterday, I noticed that about 20 percent of the riders fell into that category.

Many wore the standard rectangular type with horizontal pleats, while some sported black masks of the kind seen on street demonstrators overseas.

According to the Zenkoku Masuku Kogyokai (national association of mask manufacturers), face masks came into wide use in Japan during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Before that time, their use was limited almost entirely to protecting coal miners from coal dust.

During the Showa Era (1926-1989), the mask-wearing........

© The Asahi Shimbun