You know the cedar trees have bloomed when you start seeing everyone around Tokyo wearing masks. Not only that, but mask and allergy medicine advertisements on the train are plastered everywhere. The first time I saw people wearing these things is when I came to Japan. In Canada they're relatively unheard of, and if someone did wear one they'd automatically be labeled a lunatic or something. Such was my impression when I saw this for the first time. I wondered why the person wasn't brandishing a knife or at least talking to himself. It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I realized that only people with colds or who were otherwise sick were wearing them. A few years later it was as normal as everything else was in Tokyo. Actually it was a lot more normal than most things. What I was unprepared for however was starting to feel spring allergy symptoms myself. Why me? The first few years in Japan were spent in allergy free heaven. Back in Canada, ragweed destroys me every autumn, but here I was safe! Well at least I used to be. I can feel my eyes burning even as I write this. I heard that this year the pollen levels are going to be thirty times higher than they were last year. Thirty times! And last year I had a pretty tough time! With these thoughts in mind I found myself looking at the comprehensive mask selection at Tokyu Hands department store. Thing is, I've never seen a foreigner wearing one here. I think everyone is waiting for the first guy to do it so it will be ok for everyone. As I browsed I noticed they also had a bunch of allergy goggles. Some of them looked like the kind of thing a welder would wear. I pictured myself walking down the street not only in a mask, but a pair of allergy/ski goggles as well. If only it was closer to Halloween. I've never been a trend setter, no reason for me to try to start now. As I walked out of the store, I hoped that the foreign guy beside me with the red eyes and runny nose was more desperate than I was.
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