NAHA -- Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki's cloth masks, in an array of designs matching his traditional Okinawan Kariyushi shirts, are getting high grades from viewers of his recent press conferences, with some posting praise on Twitter such as "They're so fashionable!" and "Are they homemade?"
New cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa almost every day since the beginning of April, bringing the total number of local infections to 48 on April 10. Many are thought to have been infected in Tokyo or elsewhere and later come to the island prefecture. A resident-to-resident transmission has also been confirmed.
Gov. Tamaki has been holding frequent press conferences to announce the number of infections, ask people to refrain from visiting Okinawa to prevent the virus' spread, or tell the public other information. He has been wearing masks to these appearances since April 3, when a new prefectural office employee tested positive for the coronavirus. On that day and the next, he opted for a commercially available white mask. But on April 6, he arrived sporting a blue and white plaid mask. The day after, he wore a light blue one, and a dark red mask the following day.
The deft pair of hands behind the custom face coverings is Tamaki's wife, according to the Okinawa Prefectural Government's secretariat, and he currently has about 10 of them. He seems to be choosing one that matches the Kariyushi shirt he wears each day.
His colorful masks have gone viral on Twitter, with one post saying, "I'm scared of the spread of the infection, but I'm a little excited to see the governor's mask collection," and another reading, "I like how the cloth and patterns have an Okinawan vibe."
Other posts touched upon Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial plan to distribute two cloth masks to each household. Comments also included, "I'd actually want two of those," and, "If those are what we get, then I'd gladly accept the masks."
(Japanese original by Takayasu Endo, Naha Bureau)