Photo/Illutration A surgical mask that displays the wearer's name and a message (Provided by Nagaya Insatsu)

NAGOYA--In Japan, "face" is everything, particularly when interacting in business matters for the first time. In such situations, an exchange of business cards is obligatory.

But the new coronavirus pandemic has pretty much put paid to that as people fear whipping out a business card could spread germs and infect the other person, even though both are wearing face masks as protection against COVID-19.

This being Japan with its many innovative ways of doing things, a printing company came up with a novel solution.

The company, named Nagaya Insatsu, developed a three-layer surgical face mask that displays the wearer’s name, job title and other details.

The information painted on the surface with a special printer is intended to help those who have difficulty identifying and remembering the faces of others they have only ever seen wearing a face mask.

“We hope the masks will serve as an ice-breaker to make conversation and supplement the user’s sales skills,” said Mayuko Suzumura, a sales department representative of Nagaya.

The all-cotton facial covering works like a business card and comes in three varieties. While the standard type bears mainly characters, images can also be printed on another one. A larger name and message can be painted on the third kind.

Established in 1919, Nagaya's core business was making catalogs, calendars and advertising inserts in newspapers. It also introduced a special printer to paint cloth material, so T-shirts featuring the scores of basketball matches could be sold immediately following the end of games.

But its sales plunged after the novel coronavirus pandemic hit.

Wondering how to make the best use of the printer, Nagaya decided to produce facial gear bearing custom-made designs. It raised the necessary funds through a crowdfunding drive.

Some costumers, however, found it difficult to create their own patterns from scratch.

So Nagaya weighed providing standard designs, and hit upon the idea of the card-like gear.

Nagaya accepts orders for the special face mask on its website. Those who want to buy the product need to select the design type, and then input their name, image and other data. Even a single mask can be purchased.

A single card-like face mask costs 1,500 yen ($14.42), including tax and delivery fee.