A typical image that Westerners have of Japan, is a subway car filled with business men and school girls, all wearing white surgical masks.
In the West it is considered a bit suspicious to cover your face in public. Masks are usually reserved for bank robbers and superheroes. We think that those Japanese people with their white masks look a bit silly and a bit dodgy.
In Japan, the wearing of such masks is completely normal. They are worn for various reasons: for example when the flu is in town or to avoid catching a cold. People with allergies wear them to avoid ingesting pollen.
When I had just arrived in Japan, those masks took a bit of getting used to. Especially when I was talking to someone who still had their mask on. It is a bit difficult communicating with someone if you can’t really see their face. But…
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