Well, it's official. I've managed to catch a cold... in the summer. I've got a sore throat, phlegmy cough, runny nose, and plugged ears. No fever though...
All these symptoms mean only one thing: mask.
Yes, that's right-- when you get sick in Japan, you HAVE to wear a mask. I would wager that most gaijin can get away with being sick without wearing one, but someone who is visibly of oriental descent like me would be publicly harangued unless I acted accordingly.
When I first got to Japan at the end of March, it was the outbreak of flu-season and thus everyone was wearing a mask. I thought it was really scary. I mean-- look at it! I look like I'm an incubus of plague. I thought the mask was sort of punishment for being sick. It's an outwardly visible sign that says, "HEY WORLD-- STAY AWAY FROM ME!"
Now I realize that it's common courtesy, really. When people are in as close contact as the Japanese, it just makes sense that they should do everything in their power to impede the spreading of illness. A lot of the time, people wear masks preventatively-- not necessarily because they're currently sick.
I've even seen couples walking hand in hand wearing masks and all I can think is, "I wonder who gave it to who?"
It's really weird when gaijin where masks at school though. You can tell they're all the kids that prayed they would get sick in Japan just so they could wear a mask to prove how culturally sensitive they are. -___-;; Sorry to be so judgmental, but it's true.
Anyway-- I can't wait til I feel better and don't feel obligated to wear this damn thing. It's too humid and the mask definitely isn't making my face less sweaty.