In Japan, masks ( and prayer!) have been the preferred mode of protection from sickness, allergies, colds and close quarters, airplanes and such for YEARS! Nothing out of sync about seeing a white square surgical mask on the mouth and nose of an elegantly dressed lady, or an otherwise smartly outfitted business man. Masks have been preventing colds being caught or spread for years, centuries even, and have become increasingly essential in guarding against the dreaded CORONA 19. Today it is rare to see a maskless person walking anywhere. Even runners sport them.

I have often wondered why some stylist didn’t pick up the mask and run with it, changing materials used to something more interest, colorful and certainly blue and white. Masks are here to stay so why not make a statement with them!

A satisfied customer and his wife special ordered their masks

The United States, on the other hand, has always criticized this innocent square of cloth and turned it into a political hot potato, saying that it denies individual freedoms. Leaders have refused to protect themselves with this simple life saver – one of the few that is available to us. It is reviled, refused and rejected.

But BLUE & WHITE shows just what they are missing. If you have to wear them, and it’s clear we do, Masks can be a new area of fashion to explore! and experiment with, make a Style Statement with.

Improvise! Take a tenugui and fold it with hair elastics to loop over the ears. This one is GENKI filled with energy, healthy
Masks can bring color and variety to the day’s outfit. They can also start conversations -all the while keeping a distance! – when they’re as cheerful as this one.
We have lots to choose from. Indigo Shibori masks by Ikeda Daigo in Kurume run out of the shop as soon as they arrive
Colorful masks by YAYA fit perfectly and come in a rainbow of design and color
how much its that mask in the window?
make your own with summery sashiko designs. Masks are seasonal – easy to breathe in summer, keep you warm in winter.
Play with tenugui designs. This really comfortable one was a gift from our devoted customer Cynthia Nanto who made it out of BLUE & WHITE tenugui. It always gets compliments!
Or use a store bought generic white mask and then jazz up your outfit with BLUE & WHITE WOW!


Hand painted gauze mask by SORA TO UMI is a perfect match for our Yoruba beaded Prince who greets visitors to the Katoh house.

If masks are essential – and clearly they are! – why not make a fashion statement with them? Many do in Tokyo where the historic mask wearing culture has certainly curtailed the number of COVID patients.

Tie one on ! – this makeshift mask made from an unusual yellow bandana this Asakusa Tempura Shop worker used as a furoshiki to carry his Bento in primary school, maybe 60 years ago? A man ahead of his time!

MASKU BIJIN! Masked Beauty. a woman whose beauty is enhanced by a mask.
Father of all trades at the market: not only minding two children, but he also made his own mask
The eyes have it! Sometimes the eyes say as much as the mouth

Today Mask Style is happening. In these terrifying times, why not have a little fun where it is available? Small canvases of color and design on the face can lighten the sombre mood and bring pleasure and laughter to those who pass by. (though sadly we can no longer see each other smiling!)

And for the ultimate in amusement, a look at the offerings in Harajuku can bring out the animal, monster or cartoon character in all of us, though there is


The Ultimate in Mask amusementI on Takishita Dori in Harajuku

But the end truth is that no matter what – 



This entry was posted in Journal. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to MUCH ADO ABOUT MASKS

  1. Love this post Amy and all the wonderful variety of masks! So glad yours is comfortable:).

    • Cynthia. I’ve been having trouble with my reply that wrote immediately on reading your comment. Your support means so much to us! And your new ways of playing with the materials at Blue & White give us new ideas! Your mask is always in my bag, on my face! Thank you!

  2. Susan Price-Jang says:

    Thank you for explaining the Japanese’ common sense approach to wearing a mask to protect others from one’s own germs, especially in this time of Covid-19. And you add art and humor to the idea of the mask. Much appreciated by me in San Jose, California.


  3. razia says:

    i would like to know the meaning of tenugui, thank you, beautiful post.

    • Hi Razia. Thanks for writing! Somehow previous answers I’ve written to you flew out into space, so let me just tell you that tenugui are hand dyed cotton towels used in every day life in Japan to wear and wipe up with and give as gifts. They are 90 c x 35 c. more or less and are colorful tools for people who work with their hands Gardeners, carpenters, construction workers. Sushi chefs invariably twist and tie them around their heads to add a Japanese flair (Japanache) to their work. Everyone should have 3 or 4 tucked away in their bag Orin their pocket. You never know when you’ll need one! BLUE & WHITE has lots!

  4. Judith Jerald says:

    All so lovely! Is there a way zI could order some masks? ❤️ Judy

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Yes Judith! But depending on where you live. The Japan Postal Service will not accept packages to theUS, but if it is just in slim mask Ittei, we may be able to skip it in as a letter. Where are you??
      Thanks for asking.

      • Hi Judith. I’ve just asked at the Pist Office who said sending Air nail or EMS packages to New Zealand is ok, but they will not accept any mail for Australia. And the United States. Hope you’re in New Zealand!

  5. What a super posting about masks–if only our leaders would forcefully follow the rest of the world about the necessity of wearing masks in these perilous times!! thanks so much for your thought-provoking and “made me smile” posting…hugs Julierose

    • Thanks Julierose – Great name! And yes! The leaders must lead by example! We must all wear masks everywhere we go.
      If we made you smile, then were are very happy!
      But one of the drawbacks of wearing a mask is that you can’t show that you’re smiling. Nor return a smile, for that matter! Too bad!

  6. razia says:

    dear amy, thank you for the details, it is most interesting. my friend’s son lives in Tokyo with his family, what is your shop’s adress? thank you very much.

    • Dear Razia
      I DO hope you can visit some day – but who knows when!
      BLUE & WHITE ‘s address is 2-9-2 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku Tokyo
      A cool old traditional neighborhood with a special mix of old world and new, decked out and everyday, local and international. A one of a kind neighborhood! Always something to see.
      Thanks for your interest.
      Until you come, I’ll keep blogging and Instagraming.
      Keep well!

  7. razia says:

    dear Amy, I would like to buy three tenugui cotton towels with interesting prints, what are the procedures for buying and shipping them? thank you very much, do you have a private e-mail? thank you again.

    • Hello Razia,
      Apologies for the very late reply. We are not always great about tracking this page but we’re trying to be much better.
      If you are still interested (even after waiting for so long! sorry again!), you can find a selection of our tenugui available for order online on our webiste:
      On the online shop section, you can select your tenugui, provide your shipping address, and enter your credit card details securely.
      Let us know if you have any questions – inquiries to our email will probably reach us fastest!
      With many thanks and warm wishes,

  8. Grace Kono says:

    Some time ago I inquired about purchasing four of the 2021 Blue/White calendar. Please contact me so that I can place my order ASAP so that I can present them as holiday gifts this year. Thank you.

    • Hello Kono-san,
      Apologies for the late reply! We are very naughty!
      Did you get your calendars? By now I’m afraid they are all sold out, but maybe we can help somehow?
      Please feel free to reach out to us by email at, or by phone at +81 (03) 3451-0537.

      • Grace Kono says:

        Thank you for this e-mail. Fortunately, I was able to purchase the 2021 calendars and all gift recipients and I are enjoying them. No apology necessary since I sometimes is technologically deficient. I appreciate your inquiry.

        Best wishes, Grace Kono


Leave a Reply to Blue and White Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s