Eye-catching, face-obscuring fashion from China protects your skin from harsh UV rays, makes you look like a crazed criminal.

Envy isn’t an emotion our Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato is used to feeling. He’s got a pretty sweet life, after all, with good friends, an understanding dad, and workplace “responsibilities” that include eating 10,000-yen (US$90) luxury bento boxed lunches.

And yet, Mr. Sato has been feeling the green-eyed monster tapping him on the shoulder this summer, as our coworker Go Hattori’s recent assignments have included trying out Japan’s sun-blocking face visors and snazzy suspender-like belts from the 100 yen store, giving him beautiful skin and fashionable outfits. Feeling like he’d started falling behind in the game of life, Mr. Sato realized that in order to catch up he needed to start living his life at double-speed, and so he decided on the two-in-one strategy of buying some Facekinis.

Facekinis first made inroads in China, where they’re used by beachgoers hoping to protect the skin of their faces from the harsh rays of the sun. They’re pretty much never seen in Japan, though, and Mr. Sato figured that by being an early adopter in Tokyo he could have the look entirely to himself, at least until the inevitable copycats started aping his style.

Predicting that he’d eventually need a wide array of Facekinis, Mr. Sato went online and bought three, priced individually at 1,396 yen (US$12.60). Once they arrived in the office, he tried each of them on, taking a long look at himself in the mirror before picking which to wear out in public for his Tokyo Facekini debut.

First up was this sophisticated option, but the dark colors had Mr. Sato thinking it might be a little on the dowdy side. Sure, it’d be great for an elegant evening cocktail party at a swanky hotel lounge, where he’d sip his martini through the Facekini’s mouth hole while gazing coolly at the view of Tokyo Tower. It felt too formal, though, for the casual excursion he had planned.

Hopping to the other end of the spectrum, this marine-themed number is definitely appropriate for the summer season. However, Mr. Sato’s schedule is a busy one, and he wasn’t headed down to the Kanagawa coast, but simply out for a stroll through the concrete jungle of downtown Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood.

And so he decided on the brightly colored geometric variety of the Facekini seen above. Slipping on his selection, he took the elevator down to the first floor and hit the streets.

However, it didn’t take long for Mr. Sato to realize that he was now so stylish that he stood out like a sore, albeit fabulous, thumb.

Our reporters have been detained and questioned by police before due to the way they live on the bleeding edge of the fashion world, and Mr. Sato thought the same thing would happen to him as soon as the first Metropolitan Police cruiser rolled by. So, being the considerate guy he is, he figured he’d save the boys in blue some time by reporting in himself, and so he headed directly to the nearest police box to ask about the legality of wearing a facekini in Tokyo.

▼ He made sure to take the mask off first, though, since the local cops are probably still steamed at us for that time we went through half a police questioning while wearing panties on our heads.

Inside the box, Mr. Sato showed his Facekini to the officer on duty, explaining that it’s an anti-sunburn mask used in other parts of the world. “Would it be a problem is I wore this to go shopping, or to a restaurant?” he asked, and the officer responded with:

“Well, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you did that and the shopkeeper called us to report you.”

OK, that made sense. After all, restaurants and retail stores are cash-heavy businesses, and showing up with your face concealed could have employees thinking you were there to rob the place. “What if I just wore it while walking around town?” Mr. Sato asked next, to which the officer answered:

“Yeah, you’d probably be better off not doing that either.”

So in the end, it seems like wearing a Facekini on the streets of Tokyo is, legally speaking, similar to wearing a mankini: not necessarily a crime, but highly likely to earn you a lengthy conversation with the police. And so, Mr. Sato headed back to the office with his facekini in his hands, not on his head.

As for his intra-office fashion rivalry, he’ll just have to take solace in the fact that Go doesn’t have a rocking fauxhawk like he does.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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