In most countries, walking around the streets wearing a white surgical mask would likely draw stares from those around you. People may even cross the street to avoid whatever plague they think you’re harboring. However, in urban Japan it’s hard to walk down the street without seeing someone in such medical-looking garb, especially during peak allergy seasons.

Despite this, there seems to be an unwritten rule that all face masks should be white. You might see an occasional designer mask with a logo or floral print, but by and large seeing anyone wearing a surgical mask other than white is kind of rare. However, a new brand of mask with the unfortunate name of B.M is challenging this social convention by being pitch black.

The name B.M is obviously an abbreviation for “black mask” (unless you have the mind of a five-year-old like myself). For the most part it looks and feels like regular face masks except for its ebony tones.

The makers at Roshell boast the coordination powers of having a black mask, saying that it goes with any ensemble. It’s an especially attractive accoutrement for people living the rockin’ visual kei lifestyle but who are also concerned about cold and flu season. And of course off-duty ninjas.

It would also be safe to wear after Labor Day, if such a rule existed in Japan. But the benefits of going black don’t end there!

The black coloring was partly done by mixing in charcoal fibers with the fabric which also gives the mask extra filtering ability. According to the package, it “cuts over 99.5 percent of airborne pollen and viruses.” In addition, the mask is said to reduce the unpleasantness of bad breath with its charcoal black magic.

On Japanese online shopping site Rakuten’s review page the masks have received some rave reviews, with many satisfied customers applauding their comfort while also enjoying the additional attention they attract. “The woman at the bank counter and some girls on their way to school all asked me, ‘Where can I buy that?’” read one review.

A writer for Japan’s Gigazine decided to put the eye catching effects of B.M to the test and wore one out for a stroll through a major urban area. Sure enough passers-by were giving sidelong glances and doing double takes.

Five-packs of these masks can be bought online through Rakuten or Amazon for 397 yen (US$4). If you happen to have a more slender face, worry not! There’s also “B.M for lady” for which I swear I kept a straight face while typing.

So if you’re looking to get noticed this winter season get your hands on a B.M. I’d try them too, but my stunning good looks and face tattoo already seem to do the trick.

Source: Amazon, Rakuten via Gigazine (Japanese)