Face Masks in Japan

The Japanese will put on face masks to prevent the spread of influenza and any other winterly virus that is floating around.

As with the picture above you will see that nearly everyone will wear a mask when the Japanese Ministry of Health announces an influenza outbreak and the funny thing is that every year there is always an outbreak.

I don’t have the knowledge and medical background to say that these masks are useless but one has to wonder if everyone wears a mask then why year by year is there an influenza epidemic?

There are a number of answers floating about on the internet and the one to hold the number one spot is “they are useless” as the masks that 90% of the Japanese wear are 1 ply that they buy from the 100 yen shops.

Like I said above I can’t agree or disagree with the remark as I don’t have a medical background but what I do believe is that the reason why Japan has an influenza outbreak every year is due to a culture spirit called “Gaman” where Japanese workers will go off to work even if they are sick as a bat.

So as you can tell these poor souls who are sick will go off to work and pass the virus around to the healthy people in the office and so on and so on. It’s a never ending circle of infect, heal, and infect.

This culture of “Gaman” can be found all the way down to the children here as they will all go to school in shorts all year round. As with my own children they go off to nursery in shorts and the reason for this is that the Japanese believe it will boost their immune system.

But not every city is the same as in Osaka the children will continue to wear shorts and even short sleeve shirts from the ages of three up until they are twelve but in my city the primary schools don’t have uniforms so the children can dress as they wish.

Now another point I would like to raise is that the Japanese have this “Gaman” spirit of seeing it through up until the very end but seems go a bit off track in the school system. As with the adults when there is an influenza epidemic they will just push through it and in turn spreading the virus around in a circle but at the primary schools if there is an epidemic then they will close the classes if the student base falls from 30 to 20.

This actually just happened to my oldest boy who was sent home last week Tuesday for the remainder of that week because his class hit the low number of 20 students to close. All of last week and even today I am receiving emails from his primary school saying that so and so class will be closed due to influenza.

It’s all nice and well to do the above with the children but every year there is the same outbreak of the influenza virus and these masks and sending the children home never seems to slow it down.

My final part of this post will be to ask you how does there always seem to be an outbreak in Japan and how best to prevent it?


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