The VICE Guide to Right Now

Are These Realistic ‘Smile Masks' Cool or Creepy?

Some find them funny but others think they're off-putting.
Photo: Courtesy of Takeya

They say to always serve customers with a smile, but amidst the pandemic, this has been particularly hard to do from behind a mask. Now one discount store in Tokyo has come up with a creative way to appear friendly while staying safe.

Takeya, which sells everything from clothes to furniture, got around the limitation by coming up with what they call “smile masks.” Staff started using them after their “Smile Campaign,” launched in August as a way to “deliver a refreshing smile to everyone even through masks.”


The idea came from one of the store’s employees.

“We don't know where the world is headed, or what expressions people are making under their masks, so let's find a way even when wearing them to get our smiles to our customers,” the unidentified employee told The Mainichi, a Japanese newspaper.


Photo: Courtesy of Takeya

The staff reportedly went through many rounds of designs, using pens to draw the smiles on the masks, but they eventually decided to print photos of smiles instead. There are two types, one for men and one for women. Both are modelled by two workers but could easily match the wearer’s face. So much so that they look eerily realistic. Many netizens thought the masks were off-putting.

“The idea is interesting but scary.”

“I’m pretty scared.”

Still, it looks like some were fans of the mask and wanted one of their own. Takeya decided to sell them and claimed that their first batch of smile masks is now sold out. Apparently, they’ve gotten so much attention that customers now stop to take photos with the employees.

“Because they make our customers laugh, we too can work while actually smiling under our masks,” employee Misuzu Kudo told The Mainichi.


Photo: Courtesy of Takeya

With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, many have been coming up with unique mask designs. People have printed their own faces on masks while others are pushing for transparent masks, to make facial expressions more visible and lip-reading possible. One Japanese start-up even developed a mask that can transcribe and translate conversations.

Follow Frankie on Twitter and Instagram.