Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Mask.

So, as the winter drags on in Japan, more and more of my students are falling prey to the flu. At least a few times daily, I'll be sitting in the office, when a teacher will answer the telephone, mutter the word "influenza" with a resigned sigh, before getting up and signing something off on a specially-constructed board in the corner of the staffroom. It's all a bit ominous, really. Lucky, then, that there's the ubiquitous flu mask to save all our asses.

In the West, the sight of a flu mask is something we'd associate with pictures of the SARS outbreak on the news back in the early 2000s. Here in Japan, however, they're a staple part of everyday life. No matter what the illness, big or small, chances are, if you're Japanese, it will be tightly guarded with a mask. They're so ubiquitous, in fact, that there isn't just one variety. Oh no, there are a bundle of different types.

First, you have your standard, full-face-covering affair:

If that's a little too conventional for you, you can opt for something a little more fierce and angular:

Still not satisfied? Well, this is Japan, you don't need to cut cuteness from your diet just because hives have taken over your face - oh no, you can go for an all-out kawaii facial assault.

Alternatively, you could stand brave in the face of illness and opt to scare the shit out of your diarrhea with something a little more ballsy...

Or if you consider yourself something of a fashionista, then accessorise your malady with a to-die-for face mask. Flu is the new black, Miss Thing! Everyone's doing it!

Sadly, I haven't been able to find varieties #3 through #5 in the stores myself, so I've had to settle for something a little more orthodox. Probably for the best. Plus, I think variety #2 has a certain "shark" look to it... nothing gets a kid listening better than the thought that you're ready to take a bite out of their flesh at any given moment.

That, and I can just imagine the "ええええええええええへ!"s I'd be greeted with if I turned up at school with a gnome's pubic bush on my face.

Stay healthy!

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