Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Japan’s Abenomask

The government of Japan has supplied people with masks to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The mask supply from the government has finally begun distribution. Members of our Tokyo-based writer group, Higepica (president: Matsuoka, subordinate: Hayashimoto), have received theirs as well. Here, we will finally check what’s inside the pack and how comfortable it is wearing these masks.

Please note that the following exchange was conducted with a distance of 2 meters between the members in a well-ventilated room after both of them have worn masks and disinfected with alcohol.

The arrival of the “Abenomask”!

The talk of the town has come! Hayashimoto’s “Abenomask” finally arrived and along with his boss, Matsuoka, they both check out the contents of the package.

Abenomask” delivered in the post.

The “
Abenomask” is the 2 masks per household distributed per address based on the emergency economic measures decided by the cabinet last April 7. While Hayashimoto already received his, Matsuoka has yet to receive his masks. There seems to be regional delays in the delivery of the masks.

2 masks and a booklet on avoiding the Three Cs (Closed spaces, Crowded spaces, Close-contact settings) were enclosed.

The rumored dirt or hair contamination were not found!

Hayashimoto read on the internet that some people apparently received masks that were dirty or had hair in them, so he was worried. Thankfully, their masks seem fine.

On the cover of the enclosed booklet, simple illustrations explaining how to avoid the
Three Cs are shown. When you open it, instructions on how to wash the masks and things to observe in your daily life are well-written in detail.

How to wash the masks and how to prevent Coronavirus infection written in the booklet.

Matsuoka says it’s probably better even for those who are already aware of these tips, to read this print thoroughly.

Checking the odor and shape of the mask!

“Now, let’s see the masks. Obviously, it smells like gauze, or cloth… it smells like masks. Just a normal mask odor, nothing more nothing less,” says Hayashimoto.

The 2 masks are individually wrapped.

According to Hayashimoto, the scent of the mask is the usual smell of gauze, or cloth. It simply has a normal mask odor, nothing more and nothing less. The shape of the mask is a perfect rectangle like the ones used by class leaders whenever they distributed lunches back in elementary school which is nothing similar to those pleated 3D face masks.

Matsuoka also adds that the cloth part which covers the mouth and the nose is made with 5 overlapping layers of cloth.


Shut out the virus with 5 layers of fabric!

The mask looks like there’s no distinction between the front and the back.

Trying it on.

Upon trying it, Hayashimoto mentioned the importance of comfort. If the mask is uncomfortable to put on, then  there is no use for it. Matsuoka said Prime Minister Abe must have scrutinized these masks to give the best comfort to those who are affected by the lack of face masks.

Putting the mask on.

After trying it, Hayashimoto concludes it’s just a plain mask. Those who are used to wearing the disposable pleated masks might find the “Abenomask” a little stuffy, but it’s tolerable.

“It’s not a big deal if it will save you from the Coronavirus,” says Matsuoka.

The true value of the “Abenomask” is that it is reusable.

The good thing about cloth masks is that they can be washed and reused. Just as what is written on the booklet, hand wash it carefully without using the washing machine and let it dry in the shade.

Matsuoka didn’t forget to mention that on the booklet it said the mask might “shrink a little.”

Drying the masks……

After washing and drying, when Hayashimoto and Matsuoka checked on the masks, they didn’t shrink at all!

We expected for the “Abenomask” to shrink after washing, but it didn’t.

The mask is convenient since it can be used over and over again. Hayashimoto sends his gratitude to the prime minister, “Thank you Abe-san!”

Conclusion: There are some inconveniences, but it can weather the crisis

For Matsuoka, the only setback is the form of the mask. Because of its size, when you open your mouth wide while wearing it, the cloth is pulled by the chin and the whole mask slides downwards.

Open your mouth wide while wearing the mask and your nose becomes uncovered.

In the end, the mask exposes the entire nose. If you laugh too hard while talking to a friend, your nose will pop out and your protection will be reduced into half. For men, it could’ve been nicer if they were one size bigger.

Size difference compared to a regular disposable mask.

Still, Hayashimoto appreciates the fact that the mask can be washed and reused. In times like this when masks are still out of stock in most pharmacies and convenience stores, this is really something to be grateful for.


Matsuoka also shares how in the military, their body size will match their own military uniform. With the distributed masks, people should probably use a face roller and sculpt their face to fisk the “Abenomask” better.

To end their review, Hayashimoto encourages everyone to overcome this unprecedented disaster with the help of “Abenomask.”

Reference: Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare official website “Q&A regarding distribution of cloth masks to all households”
Please refer here. (in Japanese)

*Distribution of cloth masks, replacement of defective products, washing methods, etc. are posted

(Article published based on information as of April 28, 2020.)

Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (28 April 2020)

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