Mr Sato heads out to “Grannies’ Harajuku” to get his face in their underwear. 

In a country where residents have been wearing face masks for years, the pandemic has prompted people to think outside the box when it comes to new face coverings, giving birth to fascinating creations made from socks, lace bras, and even paper fish.

For our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato, however, masks have always been “underpants for the face”, with his logic being that when you’ve got a mug like his, pants and masks work well to hide both his “embarrassing parts”.

So for him, it’s not a stretch to think that the perfect face covering would be made from the same material used to cover people’s nether regions…and if they’re considered lucky underpants, even better! That’s what he had in mind when he set out to track down a new mask that’s been causing a stir online, created by “lucky underpants” seller Maruji Sugamo.

Maruji Sugamo specialises in red underwear, and with red being an auspicious colour in Japan, their store draws customers from far and wide who want to add some luck to their wardrobe for tests, love or general everyday use.

Though it’s located in Tokyo’s Sugamo, affectionately known as “Grannies’ Harajuku” due to the abundance of stores aimed at older women, Maruji Sugamo caters to all ages and genders. Now, during the pandemic, they’ve even branched out into mask production as well, using the same material as their lucky underwear to attract a wide range of customers, including Mr Sato, who purchased two of their new masks when he visited.

▼ Each mask is packed in a bag adorned with a cute illustration of “Amabie“, a yokai believed to have the power to defeat epidemics.

▼ This bag has Amabie’s secret power, “Epidemic Expulsion“, written on it in white kanji on a red background.

Manufactured by Yamagata’s “red pants factory”, these masks are made from 100-percent cotton and are designed to be one-size-fits-all. At the store, Mr Sato confirmed with staff that the cloth used in the masks is the same as the material used in Maruji’s underwear, and he couldn’t wait to see if they would be a snug fit for his face.

▼ There are two designs available, patterned and plain, both retailing for 599 yen (US$5.67) each.

▼ Both designs are noticeably well-made, with tight stitching, stretchable loops for the ears, and gorgeous material that’s smooth to the touch.

When Mr Sato put the mask on, he was surprised to find that it offered great coverage, concealing everything from the top of his nose to the tip of his chin. Both masks felt much better than he’d expected, as they were light and incredibly easy to breathe through.

“I feel awesome and free! No feeling of oppression at all — the best facial pants!”

With this glowing review from our facial underpants specialist, these masks are definitely worth seeking out. And if you’re shy about wearing lucky underpants on your face, Mr Sato says you shouldn’t be, as they don’t really look like underwear, despite being as light and soft on the skin as the pants you wear down below.

The Maruji mask is currently available to purchase in-store or online, although stock on the website is currently low, given how popular they’ve been with online customers. According to Mr Sato, these masks definitely live up to the hype, unlike the Uniqlo face masks that fell short of everyone’s expectations when they were released in June.

Related: Maruji Sugamo
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[ Read in Japanese ]