Comic: The Many Uses of Japanese (surgical) Masks

comic comics life in japan texan in tokyo cartoon

Japanese people sure love their face masks. The first time I came to Japan, I was mildly terrified because of the swarms of people wearing white surgical masks. I thought there was some sort of outbreak. 

My whole first year in Japan, I tried really had to adapt and wear the masks too, when I was coughing, sneezing, or otherwise sick… but I found them incredibly uncomfortable and almost useless. They didn’t help my sore throat and often caused my glasses to fog up.

Something changed my second year. I don’t know what.

But now I love these surgical masks. Every time I travel back to America, I pack a couple of them for the flight (and just in case I get sick).

I find them very comfortable and very useful. Actually, my friend Lisa wrote a guest post about why she loves Japanese face masks a couple months ago – and I agree with everything she wrote.


Like these comics? Check out my comic books (on Amazon):

My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book


My Japanese Husband (still) Thinks I’m Crazy


Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

15 Comments on Comic: The Many Uses of Japanese (surgical) Masks

  1. I don’t know why those things make me hyperventilate. I got sick in Japan on my first trip and bought some to wear so I wouldn’t cough my lungs out…but it only made things worse!

  2. Would it be acceptable to wear one during allergy season in Georgia?

  3. Melody ♡ // 3 April, 2015 at 11:08 am //

    But what about being able to breathe in and out fresh air? Doesn’t it get kind of hot and

  4. Oh gosh, sometimes I want to distribute these masks to people on the subways.

  5. zoomingjapan // 2 April, 2015 at 7:00 pm //

    Or inside of airplanes, or when you have pimples, or when you don’t want to get sick or ….. I LOVE THEM MASKS! ;P

  6. I also gave up on masks quickly they are not confortable …

  7. When I wear a mask, I would be able to imagine myself transformed into a masked vigilante superhero! :D

  8. How do you keep them from fogging up your glasses? That’s always a pain for me, especially when I already feel fevered and have my hot breath hitting my face.

  9. Shingo Nakatani // 2 April, 2015 at 11:10 am //

    It seems that this topic is very popular for foreigners living in Japan. There was a TV Programme from NHK called “Cool Japan” asking 50 foreigners about “Big Questions”… One of them was this topic…

    You can see the programme in YouTube website below (Part 1)

    Also there are many websites listing possible reasons… (Part 1) (Part 2)

    BTW, I have just see Grace in TV (Tokyo Eye 2020: Grace looks cool in Red Hair Wig…

    Part 2 for Shibuya Special will be done by Lisa (Grace’s friend)…


  10. I recently saw on TV the history behind surgical masks, they come from the 1950s and 60s when the air pollution of industrial cities like Tokyo and Osaka was so bad outbreaks of asthma and bronchitis were rampant and government advised that children always wear masks when outside. I’m so glad the pollution is not so bad now but people still love the masks!

  11. Oh thats brilliant, love the no makeup idea. I must admit I’ve thought of wearing these on planes, not because I’m sick but I take a medication that makes my immunity really crappy and I hate arriving on holiday sick. Figured I’d just look nuts and freak people out but as I mostly go to and from Japan maybe they really wouldn’t care :)

  12. I cannot wear them since I depend on my glasses-vision and when it’s all foggy I’m practically blind :D

  13. Many people in Taiwan wear them when driving scooters so they don’t breathe in harmful exhaust fumes.

  14. When you first see it it’s kind of strange. Now, after so many Japanese movies that I’ve seen, when I see someone wearing that mask on the Metro in Europe I take it as completely normal (which isn’t!)

  15. Love the last frame. Mine would be: “Ugly zit on chin.”

    Maybe in a few years you can add another one: “Avoiding facial recognition software”

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