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Japan fights COVID-19 in luxurious style with million-yen masks

TOKYO — Japanese trend-setters can now protect against the coronavirus in luxurious style with opulent masks adorned with diamonds and pearls for a cool million yen ($9,600) each.

Cox Co’s Mask.com chain began selling the hand-made masks last week, with the aim of cheering up people and spurring sales in a fashion industry depressed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (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 some 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.

“The jewelry 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 revitalize Japan,” she added.

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

Some visitors to the store on Wednesday were concerned the million-yen 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 honor belongs to a $1.5 million mask made with 250 grams of 18 karat gold designed by Israeli jeweler Yvel. — Reuters

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