Japanese masuku ('face masks'), or face coverings, have been worn in Japan in public spaces for more than a century for a variety of reasons. Helping wearers reduce the risk of spreading germs, they reflect Japan's social etiquette of prioritising the needs and well-being of others. Considered to be a practical item, the masuku most-commonly worn in Japan are plain white and disposable.
One designer building on this trend is Takahashi Hiroko, contemporary textile artist and founder of design brand HIROCOLEDGE. Takahashi has made face coverings from tenugui (simply woven cotton Japanese hand towels) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, helping people to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. She makes a range of face coverings that are sustainable and re-usable, saving on the cost and waste that disposable masuku would usually incur, while making them items of fashion with her signature bold geometric patterns.
In July 2020, Takahashi Hiroko ran an online workshop with Japan House showing participants how to make their own face coverings from washable cloth, offering a sustainable way to protect themselves and others from illness.
In addition, HIROCOLEDGE and Japan House London have created a worksheet showing how to make a face covering in a few simple steps. The worksheet can be downloaded for free.
HIROCOLEDGE online workshop and downloadable face covering worksheet
Japan House staff are wearing HIROCOLEDGE face coverings to protect guests and other staff as Japan House reopens its Ground Floor to the public. A range of HIROCOLEDGE tenugui that can be used to make your own face coverings at home are also available in The Shop.