Why do Japanese people bring masks and parasols?

People wear masks as part of manners

In Japan, you will see that many people walk around wearing a mask. The sight of so many people wearing a mask in town, in the trains and indoors may look even strange.

Masks started to become popular along with the epidemic of influenza and hay fever. When cheap disposable masks made of non-woven fabric started to be sold, it became popular and more and more Japanese people started to wear a mask on a regular basis in order to prevent getting sick. According to statistics, the number of masks for household use produced in 2014 exceeds 3.1 billion pieces (data from “Japan Hygiene Products Industry Association”).

“Disposable masks” sold in Japan come in a variety of colors and patterns
Disposable masks

When disposable masks became popular, a wide variety of shapes, colors and patterns started to be produced. There are ones made with technical ideas including a three-dimensional one that fits your face perfectly and is highly sanitary, one for those with glasses that does not fog up glasses when wearing a mask, one that keeps your throat and nose moist and ones for adults and children. Many masks with different colors and patterns are also being sold. There are fashionable and cute ones, too.

However, people don’t wear masks only because they want to prevent sickness or because of sanitary purposes, some say. According to people who wear masks frequently, they want to wear them as part of manners. They think that they are considerate to others by wearing masks especially in a train or in a crowd.

Parasols are a must-have item to prevent sunburn and UV rays

It is said that from 1673 in Japan there was a 10 years period when patterned parasols, which were Japanese umbrellas with pictures drawn on them, became popular. Since then, parasols have been popular among many people to provide shade and for fashion as well. Most parasols sold in Japan now are for both sunny and rainy weather (umbrellas with UV protection that can be used on both sunny and rainy days) and there are a wide variety of products and kinds.

Sunburn preventing items and women
It is not unusual to see someone with sunburn preventing items in Japan

Parasols are popular not only because they provide shade but also because they avoid getting sunburn. Exposing excessively to UV rays, which causes sunburn and other troubles such as staining on your skin, has a negative effect on your health. So, many goods to prevent sunburn and UV rays such as arm covers and sunscreen are sold in Japan. You will be amazed to see the wide variety of these goods when you go to a drugstore in Japan. Japanese people do everything they can to protect themselves from the sun and UV rays because they want to keep their skin fair without getting sunburn.

Both masks and parasols are available with a variety of styles and functions. Why don’t you pick up some of them for souvenirs from Japan?