Japanese TV Introduces "Mask Manners"

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Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi (Getty Images)

Even before the age of covid-19, sickness masks were widely worn in Japan, especially during hay fever season. But now that people wear them every day, throughout the day, it seems as though there’s a notion as to what’s good and bad mask manners.

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This week on Asashi TV’s Morning Show (via Afternoon News), there was a segment on mask manners for work. These “rules” are aimed at business professionals, and run contrary to the creative D.I.Y. masks people in Japan have shown off online.

Image for article titled Japanese TV Introduces "Mask Manners"
Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi (Getty Images)

The following guidelines were put together by Mariko Suzuki—who specializes in manners, especially in corporate environments—after apparently talking to people in workplaces. If you’ve ever been to a bookstore in Japan, you’ve seen how many books there are on business manners. If you’ve ever been to the country, you’ve probably experienced it first-hand.

Japanese business manners can get quite complicated, with rules existing for who should stand where in elevators or where different employees should sit in the same taxi cab.

Image for article titled Japanese TV Introduces "Mask Manners"
Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP (Getty Images)

According to the segment, the following are good and bad mask manners at work:

  • Light pink masks: Good
  • Dark pink masks: Bad
  • Black masks with white shirts: Bad
  • Black masks with dark suits: Good
  • Masks with illustrations or patterns: Bad
  • Masks with company logos: Good

Much of the rationale, as unnecessary as it might seem, was that in a work environment the goal is not to draw attention to the mask. At the start of the segment, the host said that white masks were the best—probably because they’re most widespread and thus would draw the least amount of attention.

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Even during the segment there was push back by the panelists, who said things like, “Who cares?”, “Wearing a mask in itself is important and good manners,” or, “What’s good manners is not getting [covid-19] or giving it to others”.

Image for article titled Japanese TV Introduces "Mask Manners"
Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi (Getty Images)
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Online, there has been even more pushback, with 2ch commentators not having this:

“Anything is fine.”

“This is fucking stupid.”

“I can’t understand a single one of these.”

“Because of people like this, society is getting suffocating.”

“This lot is completely unnecessary.”

“Is this point of these manner teachers to making living in society rougher?”

“I just want people to stop sticking this nose out of masks and wearing them on their chin.”

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Adding rules to what kinds of masks are okay really does make a difficult time even harder—especially when there are others protesting masks.

Image for article titled Japanese TV Introduces "Mask Manners"
Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP (Getty Images)
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Wearing masks is good manners. Full stop, no?

DISCUSSION

By
michaelalwill

Ah, the annoying and pedantic side of Japan. I absolutely love the country and can’t wait to be able to travel there again, but showing these kinds of cultural, uh, quirks is healthy for anyone who might idolize Japan from afar and not realize that for every amazing thing there’s some completely arcane, obtuse shikataganai rule to go with it. Glad to see some actual pushback from panelists though instead of a bunch of heeeeeeeee reactions.