“Why so many Japanese people wear masks?”
This is the most frequently asked question from the tourists visiting Japan in springtime.
Our guests seem to be puzzled to see many people wearing masks after winter is over. Some guests get anxious if some infectious diseases are spreading around or doubt the air might be too polluted in Japan. So we need to be very careful to explain it’s nothing about that kind diseases.
Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneeze and a sore throat are main symptoms of hay fever. They affect so badly that people with the allergy cannot go out without wearing masks even if they take some drugs for the allergy.
The weather forecast includes pollen forecast which tells how much and what kind of pollen will be in the air during this season.
Why do we have such a bad hay fever in Japan?
Hay fever is one of the big social concerns in Japan. There may be a few reasons, but the basic one is that after World WarⅡ, the Japanese government planted lots of cedars and cypresses to get timbers for rebuilding the burnt houses, but later the inexpensive imported timbers took place. As a result, cedars and cypress have been left in the forest without being cut down, scattering numerous pollen in springtime.