Tokyo pop-up mask store lures shoppers with festive face coverings

A mannequin of Santa Claus wearing a face mask is displayed at a photo spot featuring Christmas season scene and masks at Tokyo Mask Land, a face-mask theme exhibition and its speciality shop, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, south of Tokyo, Japan December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

As a new wave of coronavirus infections sweeps Tokyo, a pop-up store near Japan’s capital is luring Christmas shoppers with 250 types of face mask, including festive versions with decorative lights.

Tokyo Mask Land, which opened Tuesday for a month in an office building in Yokohama, also has a mask bar and is offering mask-making workshops to draw visitors.

People often wore face mask in Japan before the pandemic, particularly during the winter flu season and in Spring when cedar and cypress pollen triggers hay fever.

Although no law mandates wearing them, it is unusual to see someone without a mask in Tokyo, even outside.

The store also plans an exhibit on the history of face coverings and a photo booth featuring Christmas trees and a mannequin dressed up as Santa Claus.

“I don’t think you would come up with an idea like this if there had been no coronavirus outbreak,” 23-year-old Ryota Nabetani, who was shopping for masks with his mother, said of the photo spot.

A woman takes a selfie at Tokyo Mask Land. Image: Reuters/Issei Kato.

Although it has had far fewer cases than in the US and Europe, a recent surge in coronavirus infections prompted authorities in Tokyo last week to request bars and restaurants to shorten opening hours.

Japan’s capital on Tuesday reported 372 new cases, the seventh straight day above 300, according to public broadcaster NHK.

A spokesman for the store said it had implemented measures to ensure that visitors didn’t catch the coronavirus while shopping for masks.

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