all photos courtesy Otozuki
As hostess workers in Japan cope with the fallout of COVID-19, they’ve found an unlikely ally. Otozuki, a manufacturer of traditional kimono garments, has teamed up with a company that runs nightclubs to develop hostess-friendly face masks that make it easy to sip drinks and converse with customers while maintaining a safe environment.
The COVID-19 public health crisis and subsequent lockdown of economies has hit Japanese hostesses and hosts working in nightclubs particularly hard. In addition to being forced to shutter, businesses classified as sekkyaku inshokugyō (drinking establishments with hostesses or hosts) were excluded from the government aid package. And as pointed out in this article (JP only) by Mieko Takenobu, women are disproportionately disadvantaged by the COVID-19 shutdown due to systemic discrimination.
So to help them cope and adjust to new working conditions, Otozuki developed a face mask inspired by those worn by belly dancers. Called Face Veil, the masks feature three vertical strips of cloth that form a curtain covering the nose and mouth. The strip in the center, made with thicker fabrics, can be raised to allow the user to eat and drink without removing the covering.
Priced between 2,200 – 3,850 yen ($20-$36 usd), the Face Veils are available in a variety of colors and traditional fabrics.