“Made in Okinawa” Face Masks Make Fashion Statement

Face masks are now a common sight in all public spaces to protect against the new coronavirus. At the same time, masks are becoming also a new fashion statement.

When Covid-19 was spreading widely in Japan, and the government restricted people’s travel, the governors of Japan’s prefectures wore face masks when holding press conferences to set an example to the public. During his public appearances, the governor of Okinawa Prefecture began wearing masks adorned with traditional Okinawan patterns, handmade by his wife.

Wearing a mask at any occasion has become a common practice throughout the country. Japan is a manufacturing nation, and new trends catch on quickly. The store shelves are now full of trendy masks on sale to match the season, time, place, and occasion. Mask specialty stores in major cities like Tokyo, have opened one after another. In Okinawa, new masks reflecting unique local trends and tastes are created almost daily.

Tsuha Sanshin Store has for 67 years provided traditional costumes and accessories for Ryukyu performing arts. They immediately created a line of masks for sale with conventional Okinawan Bingata patterns.

Tsuha Sanshin Store
Official Website  *Only in Japanese

The Tomigusuku Uji-zome Cooperative sells masks dyed with dyes derived from sugar cane that give them pleasant and natural texture and various shades from bright to dark green and gold.

The Tomigusuku Uji-zome Cooperative
Official Website  *Only in Japanese

Ishigaki Island in Okinawa, at the southernmost end of Japan, has an indigo plantation that produces dyes entirely hand-made from harvesting and fermenting to making the dyes. No chemical fertilizers or herbicides are used for the soil to grow the organic indigo. All dyeing is also made by hand. Masks from the plantation are said to induce a true Okinawa feel for the wearer.

Shimaai Noen
Official Website 

Okinawa Blessing Co., Ltd. sells washable masks with Okinawa Bingata designs, utilizing the manufacturing technology of custom-made wet suits. The masks are aimed at active people to wear while engaging in sports activities such as marathon running and bicycling. Their masks are specifically designed to reduce the stress wearing a mask puts on ears.

Okinawa Blessing Co., Ltd.
Official Website 

A mask lineup of the local brand “taion”, which develops products utilizing its own textile arts. They make highly artistic masks, which are fashion items that are designed to enhance your awareness with contrasting colors unique to Okinawa.

All of these colorful masks are sure to enhance people’s mood. These and other similar colorful and bright masks are on sale in various outlets throughout the prefecture.

taion
Official Website  *Only in Japanese

Posted on October 12th, 2020
Text by Kari Valtaoja
Kari Valtaoja is a native of Finland who has made Okinawa his home for the last 40 years. He has experience working as a writer, editor, and publisher for nearly 50 years.

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