A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Staying Healthy In Japan


Leaving behind the colossal public spaces of Beijing and their complementary chaotic jostle of hutong walks, we headed for the tight spaces of efficient Tokyo.

Delightedly, we explored March’s springtime streets around our hostel in the Asakusa neighborhood.

We crossed bridges, breathed the aroma from delicate cherry blossoms, photographed shrines and gates, selected our favorite sushi from the conveyor belt, and at night, basked in the glow of a million neon lights. Always accompanied by an orderly abundance of people.

Many wore a common accessory: a spanking white surgical mask. Providing a sense of sanitary strangeness, Tokyo dwellers wore the masks with business suits, kimonos, t-shirts and jeans, or Harajuku frills. Even toddlers were in on the look.


Our new friend Michiko explained that besides being pollen season, people were sensitive to spreading germs since they’re living so close together. In fact, signs in the subways instructed riders on the etiquette for blowing noses. “Do it at home,” the cartoon chides.


Although I can’t really imagine tucking a surgical mask’s loops behind my ears as a part of my daily going-out routine and smiling at friends in the grocery store from behind my white safety square, once my awareness was raised, I must admit that the uncovered sneezer on the train seemed a threat to us all.

1 comment

1 Doug Spiro { 05.08.09 at 8:27 am }

Surgical masks are the hot new accessory here in the US. I just heard that Kate Spade is coming out with her own line. As usual we are lagging behind Japan in face mask fashion !!!

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