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    Homemade Masks

    By thomas | May 20, 2009

    In Japan, when people get even a little bit sick they wear a mask.  If you ride the train everyday, you’re likely to see at least one person wearing a mask everyday.

    If there’s a bug going around, some people will wear masks in an attempt to avoid getting sick.

    If there’s a fear of some sort of epidemic, people will go to the drug stores and buy up all the masks.

    Recently, Japan has been making a lot of noise about the swine flu.  People are getting checked for flu symptoms at the airport.  People are being quarantined.  Schools are closing across Japan!!!  And drug stores are running out of masks.

    I happen to live in Hyogo, which is where the schools are closing.  We must be out of masks, because I got this hilarious handout on my desk at work today (click to enlarge):

    homemade mask for when you are sick with the flu
    How to make your own mask!

    It’s easy to make your own mask using stuff lying around the house.  All you need is gauze, tissue and rubber bands.

    Step 1 – Prepare 1 piece of gauze, 1 tissue and 2 rubberbands.

    Step 2 – Spread out your gauze (should be big enough to cover your face lengthwise [important detail!])

    Step 3 – Fold your tissue in half and place it in the middle of the gauze.

    Step 4 – Fold the top and bottom edges of the gauze down.

    Step 5 – Tie the sides of your gauze up with the rubber bands

    Step 6 – Mask complete!


    I’ve read that masks have no effect in staving off swine flu. But they may make you feel safer, giving you a psychological edge in your war against sickness.

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    Topics: Japan Hacks | 9 Comments »Trackback

    9 Responses to “Homemade Masks”

    1. JapanSoc Says:
      May 20th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

      Homemade Masks |…

      If you are sick in Japan, you need a mask. What if you don’t have one? Make one! My employer (city) passed this hilariously paranoid paper out to everyone in the office. How to make your own mask….

    2. Andoryu Says:
      May 20th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

      My favorite part is when I see people wearing masks rubbing their eyes with their hands. This is one of the easiest ways to get sick. dirty hands and eyes don’t mix! They should be wearing goggles!

    3. Peter Says:
      May 20th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

      I hope they were handing these out to everyone and not just you specifically! =)

    4. Billy Says:
      May 20th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

      That should do the trick. Unbelievable!

    5. Abigail Says:
      May 21st, 2009 at 12:57 am

      I’m in Hyogo, too, and as I was driving home from the (almost empty except for Ito Yokado which had a big sale) mall, I noticed a lady in the car behind me pulling down her mask every time she took a drag on her cigarette. Imi nai ne!

    6. Geotacs Says:
      August 12th, 2009 at 6:03 am

      you’re right that those mask aren’t really effective against the H1N1 A bug

      the N95 mask may work but that’s expensive and you’ll soon be breathing your own hot air…

      but i guess the reason why Japanese wear masks is more of a cultural thing about making sure you don’t pass your bugs to others…

      since most masks are not as effective… maybe it’s better to just stay home…


    7. Lisa Christensen Says:
      November 26th, 2009 at 6:00 am

      Two comments.
      The guy modeling the home – or office – made mask looks like François Chau on LOST. That is pretty funny.

      Also I believe that while the first recorded use of paper tissues to blow ones nose was in Japan the Kleenex tissues we use in the west (yeah I am in the states but enjoy the blog) were originally designed to be a gas mask filter.

      That just might be way to much info :) I agree with the above poster, don’t touch your eyes or your nose with your hands.

      Stay well!

    8. Japanese Phrases Says:
      February 8th, 2010 at 5:02 am

      Yeah, masks tend to give people a false sense of security. I do appreciate it when people who have a cold where them, but the bigger problem is the lack of washing hands. Which has gotten better here with almost all stores now carrying antibacterial sprays you can use before entering the store.

    9. CJ Says:
      June 11th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      What happened to your blog?