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Unique face masks catching on in Japan amid virus crisis

  • April 17, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 8:10 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, April 17 (Jiji Press)–Cloth face masks featuring traditional craft techniques in various regions in Japan are selling well while shortages of single-use masks continue amid the new coronavirus outbreak.

The trend is contributing to revitalizing local communities. One municipality supports the production of such cloth face masks by disabled people.

In the central Japan city of Nagoya, face masks made from “Arimatsu, Narumi shibori” traditional tie-dye fabric are proving popular.

A Nagoya store that makes such handmade face masks from two to three years ago says it has increased the number of makers to three from one after sales started rising in February.

“We put 20 to 30 face masks on sale at the store daily, and they sell out immediately,” said a worker at the store, Hisada. “We can’t keep up with the demand.”

Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura turned up at a press conference wearing a colorful tie-dye face mask. “It makes me feel good,” he said, drawing many online comments.

“Samurai” face masks inspired by “kurumeori” traditional textile in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, southwestern Japan, are also catching on.

One local company, Rooring, which sells clothes and other items, developed the masks, which use soft fabric made by mixing extrafine cotton and dyed yarn.

The masks are designed to fit to the user’s cheekbones to prevent the fogging of glasses. They are not easily stained with lipstick.

Since sales of the samurai mask series started in mid-February, over 1,000 masks have been sold, according to the company.

“It has a good reputation as it doesn’t hurt the user’s nose or back of the ears as normal face masks do,” said Toshihiko Sanefuji, head of the company.

In mid-March, the Soja city government in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan, the birthplace of Japanese jeans, started supporting sales of denim face masks made at 11 local facilities where people with disabilities work.

The Soja government accepts orders on behalf of the facilities as part of its efforts to support the employment of such people.

It sells the product for 400 yen each at the city office and 1,000 yen online, including delivery costs.

The local government has so far received orders for over 110,000 denim masks. Some 1,200 units have already been sold.

Highly rated products made at places where disabled people work “lead to improvements in the quality of the lives of people with disabilities,” a city government official said.

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