The Japanese nation has a reputation for being fastidious, bordering on the point of compulsive, and a new craze has taken over the country which seemingly proves this, beyond doubt.
Spring in Japan, sees an extremely high levels of pollen thanks to the large quantity of cedar trees that grow there. [Pollen Allergy]
That combined with a seasonal increase in general germs from cold and flu has culminated in the designer mask.
By masks, we are talking surgical masks that come in a multitude of styles and colors, coming in at a not insignificant thirty dollars retail price.
Made by companies such as 3M, these special masks feature extra space around the nose area making it more comfortable to both wear and breathe.
Reporting strong growth in the sales of masks, leading manufacturer, Unicharm who also sell other general health care products, is part of this sector that was worth one hundred and forty million dollars last year alone.
Everywhere you go people are wearing them and they are becoming an important fashion statement.
One in five citizens suffer from hay fever and other allergies, it is a multi million dollar industry for certain manufacturers. The daily pollen count is seen as more important than the weather.
Medical men like Tom Lomax of the Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic is not convinced if there are any benefits from wearing a surgical mask. However, the Japanese also wear them as a sign of respect towards their fellow citizens.
It is a trend that obviously makes sense to the people of Japan and possibly for city dwellers in America it might well appeal to you too.