We may no longer have to completely remove our masks for socially-distant dining out experiences.

Despite understated recommendations to limit contact during the pandemic, the Japanese government has funneled a huge amount of money into their 2020 Go To campaign, an attempt to revitalize the already-ailing tourism industry. Citizens are caught between conflicting directives — stay at home as much as you can, in small gatherings, but while also traveling and dining out at restaurants…?

The middle ground adopted by many eateries is to provide as safe an eating environment as possible, maintain social distancing, and insist that patrons wear a mask. Great! The only problem is that when you dine out, you need to use your mouth. Do you take your mask off completely? Do you hope for the restaurant itself to provide some kind of barrier?

▼ Results may vary.

One company, Taniokaguchi Fukusou, has launched a sub-brand named Tanioka Mask. Tanioka Masks’ newest product, the Eat Mask, could answer all our socially-distanced dining prayers, with an emphasis on “could.” They uploaded a helpful video to demonstrate how this nifty bit of mask technology works.

The mask has velcro straps incorporated into its design so that the wearer can lift a hand up and remove the portion of fabric that covers their mouth. Then after taking a bite of whatever delicious restaurant fare is on the plate before them, they can simply re-fasten the velcro to cover their mouth again.

▼ Their model wearing the mask.

▼ Here he is again, with the mask opened enough to eat.

As the velcro can be opened from the left side, right side, and also hoisted up to reveal the mouth fully, it will be easy for people to manipulate regardless of their dominant hand. The company promises to release the line in a range of sizes, too:

  • The medium size (women’s) gives mask sizing measurements for 14.5 centimeters (5.7 inches) by 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) by 8 centimeters (3.14 inches).
  • The large size (men’s) is sized at 16 centimeters (6.3 inches) by 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) by 9 centimeters (3.5 inches).

The fabric is the company’s own Japan-made material and they promise to provide various designs in the future, with the disclaimer that patrons shouldn’t expect a mass-produced, store-shelf product; every one of these masks is crafted by hand. They also have a canny eye for trends, as the fabric patterns contain some very deliberate choices:

▼ One upcoming pattern for the Eat Mask looks…familiar.

▼ Doesn’t this fabric look like a certain little sister’s kimono…?

Others are less blatant but still look very classy.

The Eat Mask is priced at 1,500 yen (US$14.50) per mask, with free shipping to anywhere in Japan even if you only purchase a single mask. The company cautions to wash your hands before first touching the mask, and also stresses that the mask is not guaranteed to protect you from COVID-19; the mask is recommended to “protect the wearer from allergens such as dust and pollen, ease throat dryness and stifle coughs and sniffles”. This is common for fabric masks in general, as they are not medically sanctioned.

We presume these masks are intended for use specifically inside a restaurant, as the company advises to tape up the mask and carry it home after eating; you’ll want to make sure you have another mask for the journey to and from the diner!

Sources: Tanioka Mask, @Press
Top image: @Press
Insert images: SoraNews24,
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