Why learn from the Japanese?

We all know, thanks to travels or images seen on television or on internet, that Japanese people are often photographed or filmed while wearing a mask. But where did this custom come from? Why have masks been part of their culture for years now?

Many people believe that the use of masks depends on the fact that in big cities pollution is very high and their use is simply to reduce the inhalation of fine dust and prevent the polluting particles from reaching the nose, mouth and consequently the lungs. This is only partially true because the smog particles are too thin to be stopped by a classic mask, but they can be blocked by masks created specifically to filter the smog, masks that have special activated carbon filters.

The real reason that pushes the Japanese to wear the masks is the respect towards other individuals, in fact their main purpose is to protect themselves from diseases and not to transmit them. Just think, for example, of a person who is not feeling very well, has a cold, affected or carrying more serious diseases transmitted orally for education, this person in Japan wears a mask to avoid infecting other people by forcing them to stay in bed sick and consequently preventing them from reaching school or work. At the same time there are people who wear it to avoid being infected, also considering the high population density which increases the chances of contracting bacteria and viruses.

But when did this habit start? We are talking about a tradition that started in the early 20th century when South East Asia was hit by a massive flu pandemic that killed thousands of people, killing more than the First World War. Are white masks really useful? The white mask is really useful when the nose and mouth are completely separated from the outside and well insulated. In addition, to be truly effective, the mask must have undergone a special anti-drip and antibacterial treatment that prevents the passage of the virus.