Japan fights COVID-19 in luxurious style with US$9,600 masks

TOKYO: Japanese trendsetters can now protect against the coronavirus in luxurious style with opulent masks adorned with diamonds and pearls for a cool ¥1 million (US$9,600) each.

Cox’s Mask.com chain began selling the handmade masks last week, with the aim of cheering up people and spurring sales in a fashion industry depressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The diamond masks are embellished with a 0.7 carat diamond and more than 300 pieces of Swarovski crystal, while the pearl masks contain about 330 Japanese Akoya pearls.

“Everyone is feeling down because of the coronavirus and it would be great if they could feel better by looking at one of these glittering masks,” Azusa Kajitaka, a mask concierge at the company’s store near Tokyo station, told Reuters on Wednesday (Nov 25).

READ: Tokyo urges shorter hours for bars and restaurants in COVID-19 fight

“The jewellery and fabric industries have also been in a slump because of the coronavirus and so we did this as part of a project to help revitalise Japan,” she added.

Cox, part of retailing group Aeon, has opened Mask.com online and in six physical locations since September, offering more than 200 types of masks starting at ¥500.

Some visitors to the store on Wednesday were concerned the ¥1 million masks might be out of their league.

“If I wear one of these face masks, I have to wear suitable fashion to match it. So I think it’s a bit embarrassing (to dress up),” said 66-year-old Mitsue Kaneko.

The Japanese masks are still far from the world’s most expensive. That honour belongs to a US$1.5 million mask made with 250g of 18 karat gold designed by Israeli jeweller Yvel.

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