equipment kendo

Men mask

I have been wearing masks constantly for the last six months (since mid-March. I wear one in the supermarket, on the train to work, at my desk, in class, and, as you know, during keiko. My beard+the humid Japanese summer just makes things worse.

But, as things stand at the moment, life might be this way for some time to come, so I am (and I guess many other people are) going to have to deal with it. 

Mask-wise, I set myself three goals: 

1. Stop using disposal masks for daily-life and get something that was not only comfortable to wear and (relatively) protective, but also easily washable;

2. Try out some of the new kendo-masks that were being produced by kendo shops (my hand-made ones weren't bad, I just wanted to see if there was anything better);

3. Stop complaining.

For #2 above I noticed that Tozando had just released some new masks (called the “ISG men mask“) and they looked ok in the pictures, so I ordered three of the “normal” masks (rather than the “noseless” ones).  The pics below show (top-left) the “single layer” type, (top-right) the “double layer” type, and (bottom) the “cool” type (this is called “double layer light” on Tozando’s English website) :

After they arrived I was pleasantly happy that they looked more “keikogi-like” in real life than in the pics I had seen – I liked the aesthetic. Immediately I thought “I wonder if I can use the single layer type not for keiko, but for daily-life?” Hmmm…. 

For the last two weeks+ I have exclusively used the “single layer” type outside of the dojo, and the “cool” type for keiko… and I am very happy with the results (as happy as one can be given the circumstances). In both situations the masks did their job, plus they looked “kendo” – which is cool as you know. They are also easy to wash and dry quickly. 

“Single layer” type

Accidentally, with that simple purchase, I achieved goals #’s 1 and 2 above. #3 hasn’t quite been resolved yet, but I am happier than I was before. Of course, I cannot vouch for the protective quality of the masks, only that they fulfilled my needs. 

btw, the “double layer” type I decided to use as my backup mask (for life and/or keiko). 

At any rate, you don’t need to buy a custom men-mask, you can always make your own. But if you do decide to buy one, these will do the job.

By George

George is the founder and chief editor of
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10 replies on “Men mask”

Thanks for sharing it! I was looking to order something like this to reduce my dependency on single use masks.

Surprisingly enough here in France as soon as we put on the men cloth masks are not required anymore. Only lower face shields are – and kiai are still allowed.

The French approach definitely helps for endurance but I doubt it offers even the slightest level of protection..

Glad you found something of use in the article.

I am not sure exactly what level of protection these offer to tell you the truth … the only true way to be protective is not do kendo I think.

Thank you for your observations on the Tozando men masks. By now, I imagine that you’ve tried quite a few, both with and without plastic men shields. Given that, as you say, kendo is likely to be continuing in this way for some time to come, are you planning to share you views on your personal preferences in the future?

Hey Steve,

Of course I will. But as things are at the moment, I can’t imagine things changing drastically. I probably won’t try anything else of the same sort. What I have works fine for me. If something new or revolutionary appears, I will. I can’t imagine anything will though.


What size of masks did you order and how is the coverage compared to conventional fabric masks? I find that most masks are too short from top to bottom and opening my jaw pulls the mask down to the tip of my nose. The Tozando product looks promising but sizes are hard to judge except by measuring existing less flexible masks than the ISG product appears to be.
Considering this is going to be the norm for a couple of years it pays to get several masks that fit.

Sorry for the late reply Graham.

I got the largest size available because I also have a beard, so the coverage is quite large. I wear the thin one sometimes as a normal mask and people comment on how BIG it looks (i.e. it covers a lot of the face). Remember that the ZNKR over here say it’s ok to expose your nose when doing kendo.- but your mouth must stay covered. I use these masks to cover mouth and nose, even during keiko.

Hope that helps!

George, thanks for the response. The only downside to these masks is the ear loops; I wear a mask with these occasionally and am in severe pain around the ears within an hour or so. I’m still hunting for more masks with head loops as I wear a mask all day.

Hey Graham,

People solve that over here by threading an elastic band between the loops at the back of the head. This spreads or dissipates the “pull” of the loops.

I think my description is bad!!!

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