The fashionable face mask

The fashionable face mask

The face mask is a common site living in Japan through both the winter months and through hayfever season. Your initial reaction may be to run when you see someone wearing the mask in case they might pass on to you whatever illness they are hiding behind the mask, or maybe its just a flashback to a bad dentist or doctors trip.

Once you start to realize that most of the mask-wearers may actually be the healthy ones and the guy coughing in the corner without the mask is more likely to give you the flu, you get chance to study the different types of masks. I thought I had seen a lot of them, but it was only when I picked up the latest copy of DIME that I realized just how many types there were.

DIME Magazine, March 3, 2009 Issue

DIME Magazine, March 3, 2009 Issue

DIME Review of masks
DIME have done a quick review of the 27 different types of masks available for sale in Japan. They have split them up into 3 basic categories.

  1. Masks focused on ones image
  2. Masks focused on functionality
  3. Professional masks

The following is a snapshot of the article from DIME giving an overview. For more detail (in Japanese) you can take a look at DIME 05, 2009 3 3 edition.

The fashionable masks
In the first category, the comment is

even when wearing a mask one wants to look fashionable.

Well, nice try, but the mask on the face as a fashion statement might be a tough sell. Still, lets have a look at why they are considered fashionable. As the mask designs have developed, the manufacturers focusing on the fashionable category have worked on given more of a 3D or raised mask shape to the mask. This makes it look less like someone has strapped a packet of tissues across your nose with elastic bands.

Also in the fashionable category are the masks that don’t smear your makeup and allow you to wash off your makeup easily from the mask if it gets dirty. As well there are masks which are said to be kinder to delicate skin and masks that allow you to leave them on for longer periods of time without causing crease lines on your face.

Review by DIME magazine on face masks, Japan

Review by DIME magazine on face masks, Japan

Focus on Functionality Masks
As well as helping to protect you from the spread of flu, colds and hayfever, these masks also take into account features such as protecting you from dryness of air, fresh aromatic oils and menthol sheets in the masks to entice you to buy them. When I was looking at the people wearing masks at Shibuya station I really had not thought about which one might be wearing the menthol mask and which one had the “keep my skin from getting dry” mask on!

Some of the masks come with refills for the aromatic oils and menthol strips. Others in this category specifically point out that they combat influenza virus etc, whilst some focus on areas such as, making sure your glasses don’t steam up when you wear the mask. With the stakes high everyone has to find their niche.

Professional Focus Masks
This category should definitely not be worn on the train. They start to resemble something you might see in a movie where the body count is climbing. The mouth/nose area tends to have a plastic breathing filter and definitely does not look friendly. Compared to this category, the fashionable masks look very trendy.

Functional and Professional Masks

Functional and Professional Masks

Designer Masks, Original for you
One make of masks did look more fashionable than the rest. It was billed as a “Mask with decoration”. It allows you to put on a design seal and rhinestone to make the mask an original for you. The main purpose of the mask appears to be protection from hayfever. The Japanese name for this mask is “DecoriMask”.

Also in this picture, on the left, you can see the product called Nose Mask Pit sold by Bio International. This is a filter inserted into the nose. The copy says

When you get used to the strange sensation you feel in the beginning, you really don’t mind it so much.

I don’t think this one is for me!

DecoriMask and Nose Mask

DecoriMask and Nose Mask

Next time you are out, check out the masks at the station and see if you can figure out who is wearing what.



Snow in Tokyo

Snow in Tokyo

Snow in Tokyo

The weather had got warmer for a while, but as is normal before the warmer months of April and May arrive we are seeing snow in Tokyo today. The photos don’t quite show the swirling wind patterns of the snow flakes as they rain down, and the snow hasn’t settled on the ground yet, but snow is here.

New Hokkaido Milk from Morinaga

New Hokkaido Milk from Morinaga

The new sweets keep coming from the local convenience store. Here are two I tried today. The Mickey/Minnie ones are Hokkaido Milk sweets and the strawberry ones are Cubyrop Gummy filled with collagen. I am not even going to try and guess where the word Cubyrop comes from, but the series seems to have a lot of different flavours available.

Strawberry Cubyrop Gummy from Bourbon

Strawberry Cubyrop Gummy from Bourbon

Home Service Company

img_0907-1Here is an interesting home service company that seems to be making a big push to the English speaking market as well as the Japanese one. They have a full line up of services ranging from walking your dog, doing your shopping, making your bed to dressing up for kids parties and entertaining you. In fact they boast that any service you want they can deliver.

The English language site is easy to follow and has a good fresh feel about it.

I have not tried out any services yet, but picked up a catalog at the station. If you are looking for a company to help you out this may be a good place to look.

Tokyo Rainbow Bridge Walk

Poster for Rainbow Bridge Walk 2009

Poster for Rainbow Bridge Walk 2009

On Sunday March 1st the Rainbow Bridge connecting Shibaura and Odaiba will be closed to allow the general public to walk across the bridge in a walk festival. The event is said to be in aid of:

building excitement for the sports movement aiming to bring the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Tokyo.

The official website can be found here at http://www.tokyorainbow-walk.com/ (Japanese only).

The starting time for the 7km course event is set for 8:50am. It is expected that about 5,000 people will join in the bridge walk with traffic being closed off from the bridge.

The bridge is not normally closed to traffic but there is access for pedestrians to walk alongside the cars on normal days. I have tried it and it is quite interesting with a small innovation museum in the middle section providing a welcome break for walkers. The walk access is on the lower deck of the bridge and the view is slightly stifled. This bridge walk event is different though in that you can actually walk on the top road section of the bridge and get a full view of Tokyo.

Here are the start times in detail:
平成21 年3 月1 日(日) (event on March 1, 2009)
午前7 時30 分 ~集合 (assemble from 7:30am)
午前8 時30 分 開会式 (opening ceremony at 8:30am)
午前8 時50 分 スタート (walk starts at 8:50am, expected to finish at 12:30)

Here is a map of the walking course. Note that the start point is on the Odaiba side of the bridge in the Odaiba Kaihin Koen.

Here are some great photos of the bridge from flickr:

Yuzu Potato Chips

img_0865-1I bought a pack of Yuzu Potato chips the other day to try something different. Yuzu is found in Japan although originally came from China. The taste is very similar to a mandarin and may even be a derivative of that fruit.

There are many varieties of potato chips to choose from in Japan and the Yuzu variety may not last long in the convenience store where new products tend to change out very quickly.

Convenience Stores becoming Market Research Stores
Convenience stores appear to be becoming a market research store rather than their original purpose of serving the basic foods conveniently. Every time I visit my local convenience store I see new products only to go back in the following week to see them gone.

Japanese Snack Reviews Blog
Back to the Yuzu story, the end result was the Yuzu potato chips were good. I was going to write more about this topic but found a great article at Japanese Snack Reviews which I thought summed up the whole experience.

If you like Yuzu, these chips are for you, although the convenience store may have already filled their spot with the next new product.

I also bought some Chocolate coated Sunflower seeds which I had not seen in Japan before. I don’t know a lot about these but they did taste good.


Article from Trendy - March 2009

Article from Trendy - March 2009

A balanced diet is the base of a good lifestyle. In Japan many television programs focus on food and cooking, explaining the benefits of different food groups and explaining healthy cooking tips. For those that live in big cities though, the reality is that eating out and rushing from meals to meetings starts to become the norm and healthy eating may get left behind.

In the latest edition of Trendy Magazine, an article to help with this discusses how a Professor at Tokyo University (Prof. Aizawa) has developed a software program that can automatically analyzes the food you are about to eat by taking a photograph of it and checking it against the basic food groups. The application can be used from a mobile phone allowing you instant feedback.

The application can also keep a log of the food and save it in a diary for you to check your week or monthly balance. It is expected to be available this month, February 2009.

Professor Kiyoharu Aizawa conducts his research out of the Aizawa Laboratory at Tokyo University.

In Aizawa laboratory, we are working mainly on image and video processing technologies for the next-generation information society.

Here is the link to their home page.