Japanese politeness firmly thrown out the window when face masks are in sight.

While people around the world question the effectiveness of mask-wearing as a protective measure against coronavirus, here in Japan, where masks have been worn for years before the outbreak, it’s a no-brainer.

Masks are considered to be so important to Japanese people right now that fights have broken out over them, and the national government is even spending 46.6 billion yen (US$432 million) to issue two reusable cloth face masks to every household in the country.

The government handout hasn’t satiated the public’s desire for more masks, though, as evidenced by a recent video taken at a Japanese branch of Costco and shared online by Twitter user Marie, who goes by the handle @ronken04.

Filmed at 3:00 p.m. on 15 April at the Makuhari branch of Costco in Tokyo’s neighbouring Chiba Prefecture, the clip shows an entire delivery of masks being wiped out in moments by a horde of mask-hungry, mask-wearing shoppers.

Some likened what they saw to a bunch of hungry monkeys…

…while others remarked that monkeys appear to have better manners than humans.

According to Marie, it’s unclear whether the box at Costco had been opened by staff or customers. When she was in the store, she heard the words “mask, mask” coming from a big group of people, and after asking one of the staff if masks were in stock today, they were vague with their answer, saying: “A big crowd seems to have formed… we sold them here lately, so we probably have them today….”

People were quick to criticise the customers and store staff, saying:

“They’ve gone to buy masks, but they’re so close together they’re increasing their risk of actually catching the virus.”
“The desire for masks appears to be greater then the desire to not get coronavirus.”
“So this is human nature? So disappointing.”
“Obviously people prefer disposable masks to reusable ones.”
“This is frightening — they look like a bunch of zombies.”
“Costco should’ve been prepared for this. Instead, it’s like they’re feeding pigs.”

Thankfully, not all Costco locations were like this one, as other branches had anticipated demand would be great and put staff in charge to hand out one box per customer.

▼ At Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture, the staff-supervised mask section made for a much more pleasant shopping experience.

▼ There were civilised scenes at the Kawasaki store as well.

With demand for masks at an all-time high in Japan and across the world right now, there appears to be no limit to the lengths some people will go to in order to get their hands on a box or two.

As the great mask shortage of 2020 continues, now’s the time to fetch out those old bras and sew some masks for ourselves.

Source: Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@ronken04
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