Photo/Illutration Ice packs in inner pockets can cool down the wearer for an hour or so. (Takaaki Yorimitsu)

OKAYA, Nagano Prefecture--If wearing a surgical mask in summer makes you feel like your face is on fire, cold relief has arrived in the form of a Nagano company's fire hose face coverings.

Local craftwork studio Design Store Takajin is selling an outer mask made of pieces of fire hoses that have a pocket on each half of its inner side for holding ice packs.

The mask can be attached to a regular surgical mask to make it cooler inside or worn solo.

The facial gear can be also washed repeatedly and still maintain its shape.

“Our items are great for people who can't stand high temperatures while commuting on trains or in other places,” a Design Store Takajin representative said.

The shop specializes in bags and outdoor gear made from unused fire hoses that would be otherwise scrapped because of their expired safety dates.

Takahito Nakai, 45, who heads the studio, said he developed masks made of hoses for use by himself and friends, because “it was extremely difficult to buy surgical masks on the market.”

Because the masks are made of fire hoses, they have high water-resistance and durability.

But the prototype Nakai made for a friend in an urban area prompted complaints that it was too hot to wear on the train, leading him to add pockets inside his mask to hold ice packs.

The improvement made the product heavier, but did not distort its shape.

Though Nakai's face coverings can be worn alone as masks, he cautioned “there is no proof from the medical perspective that the product is effective” in preventing the spread of viruses.

Nakai said he made them expecting they would be worn combined with masks made of nonwoven fabric or cloth.

Another reason customers might want to pair them with another mask is that just by itself the ice-pack covering may “chill the wearer too much,” he said.

I quickly developed the product so people can beat the heat,” Nakai said. “The ice packs’ effects continue for one hour or so, and consumers should use it in trains or other places where they have some compelling reason to keep wearing masks.”

Nakai said he has received positive responses from friends using the new models, and that “some keep ice packs in fridges at their homes and offices” to put them inside the coverings.

Nakai's outer mask is priced at 1,540 yen ($14.20), including tax, ice packs not included. They can be purchased on Design Store Takajin’s website at (