Resuming Life In Japan: The Essential Items People Carry With Them To Work

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  • After the state of emergency was officially lifted in Japan’s largest cities, life seemed to slowly go back to normal. Trains are getting more crowded each day, more people are starting to go to restaurants and coffee shops, and the days of telework have been reduced.

    by Martin Danker

    The transition to normal life is not very smooth, however. Universal Studios Japan reopened its doors on June 8 for what they call a “Soft Opening,” meaning that from June 8 to June 18 only annual passport holders who reside in Osaka Prefecture can go. The park is also limiting crowds, and advance registration is mandatory. Afterwards, only people with passes who live in the six prefectures of the Kansai area will be able to go. The Tokyo Disney Resort, on the other hand, remains closed.

    As people go back to work or school, and larger crowds visit shopping areas and restaurants, some items have become essential. In fact, some companies won’t even let employees work if they don’t have some of them. While this list of items is indeed quite obvious, but we thought it would be good to compile some items people in Japan are using every single day in case you also decide to buy them.


    This one is an absolute no-brainer, but masks have become the most essential items for anyone going outside. Japan is one of the countries whose citizens wear surgical masks during the winter months to prevent getting sick or contaging others. Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic brought an even higher demand for surgical masks, leading to a worldwide shortage.

    As a result, the Japanese government started sending two masks to every household, becoming the infamous “Abenomaks” that cost a lot of money and were too small for many individuals:

    You really have to give a lot of credit to people’s sense of humor and their hilarious responses:

    Afterwards, masks started once again to become available, and major companies also began to produce their own masks. Virtually everyone one can encounter in cities like Tokyo has a mask on. We say virtually because there is always that one person who is not wearing one. Regardless of this, one can see people wearing all kinds of masks, from the generic surgical ones to more fashionable reusable ones; and from to time, the “Abenomasks” also pop up.

    Therefore, wearing a mask has become a must. Not doing so could result in stores and restaurants refusing one’s entry, workplaces not allowing one to work, and passersby giving one reproachful looks.

    Face Guards/Face Shields

    Face guards or face shields have also become very important in workplaces where employees have to talk to customers face-to-face. Such workplaces include clinics, hospitals, gyms, schools, and eikawas. However, even some offices are requiring the use of face shields.

    The problem with face shields is that many of them, particularly the most generic ones, have an elastic strap that is not adjustable; meaning that those working multiple hours wearing them can end up having headaches. Another problem is that face shields are not durable, so if the one your company gave you breaks you would have to buy a new one yourself.

    The most hilarious thing about the most available face shields is that they have the words “Direct Splash Protection” across the upper part of the shield, which paints a beautiful picture of where exactly people’s saliva, mucus, and germs end up if you are wearing one.

    If you decide to buy a face shield, make sure you purchase one you find more comfortable. There are some face shields with velcro straps that allow you to adjust how tight they are, while there are other face shields that are simply attached to glasses.

    Facial Spray

    Facial sprays have always been important during Japan’s absurdly hot summers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a bigger problem this year. Wearing facial masks when it was cold or mildly warm was completely fine, but as days get hotter and more humid, the masks and face shields can create some danger. In Japan, thousands of people are hospitalized each year due heat stroke, and face masks and face shields could only exacerbate the problem. The issue is that masks increase the heat in one’s face, making people sweat and feel like they can’t breathe properly.

    Facial sprays can offer a solution for those who need to cool down. Simply remove your mask and face shield and spray your face; and remember to keep yourself hydrated at all times.

    Insulated Water Bottles

    Since masks and face shields are creating discomfort while people are working, which is only worsening as days get hotter, carrying your own cold liquids with you will be more important than ever. The biggest advantage of insulated water bottles is that they will keep liquids cold for hours, allowing you to properly feel refreshed each time you have a sip (we all know no one likes to drink warm water when it’s boiling hot outside!).

    The only problem carrying a water bottle can bring is that they will make one’s bag heavier. However, it’s a good price to pay for the comfort of having your own water or beverage next to you at all times.

    Reusable Straws

    Reusable straws have been growing in popularity, and now they have become essential. Why? Drinking from a pet bottle or water bottle is not as easy if one is wearing a mask, and is even more difficult if one is wearing a face shield. That’s when reusable straws come to the rescue.

    Now that the state of emergency has been lifted, reusable straws are making more appearances at workplaces; and they are definitely an item anyone should consider buying. As stated before, masks and face shields are making people feel even more sweaty and exhausted due to the increased heat, making it necessary to constantly drink water and to keep cool as much as possible.


    Perhaps not a very common sight, but plastic gloves can be spotted from time to time. In some neighborhoods, those frequently wearing plastic gloves tend to be elderly women, and people should be taking note.

    Wearing plastic gloves has of course its disadvantages. For starters, just like surgical masks, plastic gloves are disposable; and while some people might reuse them, it’s not generally recommended. However, plastic gloves can be great for those who will be touching things other people have also touched.

    While it’s easy to keep your hands to yourself and your own belongings, there are situations where that is simply not possible. Picture a trip to your local supermarket. Who knows how many people before you touched produce and products and then put them back because they decided they did not want them.

    The same can happen at convenience stores, and many people rush there to buy snacks they can quickly eat just outside. Thus, plastic gloves could be very useful if one doesn’t have time to go to the bathroom and wash their hands for 20 seconds.

    Wet Wipes

    There are many kinds of wet wipes, and the ones that people are buying are meant to disinfect surfaces and belongings. Wet wipes can be very useful for those who wish to want (and should) clean their desks and computers before starting to work.

    These sanitizing wipes are also great when used at home, since people can disinfect tables, desks, door handles, and any other thing they touched before washing their hands. Of course, cleaning surfaces with soap is better, but not all materials can be cleaned with it.


    For the time being, this is our new normal. If you are ready to venture outside and go to work, make sure you are carrying some of these essential items with you. Having back-ups inside your bags is particulalry a good idea since some places won’t let you come in or work without masks, and since losing one of these items could derail our day.

    *Featured Image by h_hirabayashi (Hirorin) on Instagram
    : h_hirabayashi/