Mask Up 2020 View entries in gallery now!


We are pleased to provide an update on the donation of winning masks. CGP has donated over 1,000 masks to thirty-one Japan-related organizations, many of these masks have been distributed and worn at community events like garden clean-ups, tea ceremony demonstrations, and film screenings. You can scroll through the gallery below to see photos from these events. Please check back throughout the summer for more photos.


  • Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania

    Saitama X Pittsburgh Building Bridges Program

    Photo Courtesy of: Taylor Rawls

  • Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania

    Saitama X Pittsburgh Building Bridges Program

    Photo Courtesy of: Nick Magoun

  • Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania

    Saitama X Pittsburgh Building Bridges Program

    Photo Courtesy of: Seiya Iyobe

Winners Announced

March 1, 2021

Thank you to all the amateur artists, from kids to adults, who submitted designs for our U.S.-Japan Face Mask design contest. We’ve received hundreds of entries from throughout the U.S. including 27 states as well as Washington D.C. and Guam. The show of support and interest in this initiative was truly heartening. We would like to announce the 9 winning designs, 3 based on votes from the entrants and 6 selected by our panel of judges. Winners will receive 25 masks with their design, and $100 gift cards from Kinokuniya Books and Blick Art Materials; in addition, winning designs will be printed on masks and donated to various U.S.-Japan-related organizations across the U.S.

9 Winning Designs

  • 絆 (Kizuna)

    2. 絆 (Kizuna)

    Selected by Popular Vote

    The bald eagle represents strength while the Japanese crane symbolizes hope. Although these birds differ in many ways, they are both powerful symbols that represent some important values of the American and Japanese culture. Much like these birds, the United States and Japan are vastly different, but together they work in unity to bring hope and strength to the world. The bonds of friendship (kizuna) can overcome many obstacles.
  • Itadakimasu!

    4. Itadakimasu!

    Selected by Popular Vote

    I feel like few things can bring people together like food can. As such, my design is based on one of the most iconic dishes in Japanese cuisine, ramen, which has been embraced by American diners with a similar passion you find in Japan. Both countries are represented in the design by the small sheets of nori in the shapse of flags, joining together over a warm bowl of ramen.
  • What We Share

    12. What We Share

    Selected by: The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles

    The design concept was created with the thought of the United States' and Japan's history of interactions and what has been born from it. The design represents shared history of contact, innovations in medicine and technology, material culture, and the hope for the continuation of peace between our two nations.
  • FOX - ホシMask

    46. FOX - ホシMask

    Selected by Popular Vote

    The design uses the colors of both the Japanese and American flags. Red, white, and blue. Seven red marks resemble a Japanese kitsune, like Seven red stripes on the American flag. There are 50 blue stars representing 50 States. At the center is a heart shaped nose representing a union. Kitsune is showing more of the Japanese culture aspect, so FOX is in English. Stars are an American flag aspect, ホシ is the Japanese word for star. Thus mixing together languages in the name.
  • Across the Ocean

    91. Across the Ocean

    Selected by: Julie Pastor
    Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

    Used the National flowers of both Japan and the US with a mix of a traditional seigaiha pattern and softer line to more align with the lines of the US flag in the background.
  • Take Care of Each Other

    121. Take Care of Each Other

    Selected by: Consulate General of Japan in New York

    A mask is worn to protect not only yourself, but others as well. I hope my mask design will inspire others to come together and to overcome the pandemic.
  • The Red Thread that Connects Us

    122. The Red Thread that Connects Us

    Selected by: Rama Chorpash
    Parsons School of Design

    Based on Japan red thread legend, the red thread is a symbol of human connections and relationships. With what we are going through now in this pandemic, we should know we are not isolated from one another, but are still connected as one. With the unity of both countries, Japan and the United States we can progress through this pandemic together, with the red thread that connects us.
  • Gentle Breeze

    123. Gentle Breeze

    Selected by: Jean Shein

    Japanese cherry trees in Washington D.C. are a symbol of the long-lasting friendship between the US and Japan. Cherry blossoms flowing on a gentle breeze from the Statue of Liberty behind Mount Fuji abstract our calm yet firm aspiration to continue fostering our friendship between the two countries.
  • Friendship through music

    124. Friendship through music

    Selected by: The Japan Foundation CGP, New York

    Everyone speaks a language. People in Japan speak Japanese and Americans speak English, but there is another language that connects people in Japan and America: Music. Regardless of the language musicians speak they can all communicate through music. The saxophone is important to me because my father is a saxophonist and he plays concerts in Japan with our Japanese friend who plays shakuhachi. Music brings people together from Japan, America, and all over the world.

Entry Deadline:

January 22, 2021
(6:00pm EST)

Let's create a design representing
the U.S.-Japan connection!

Calling all creative amateur artists, kids to adults, to design an original design for a face mask, long a staple in everyday life in Japan. These masks will be good for everyone’s health and wellbeing, environmentally friendly, and pleasing on the eye. MASK UP 2020 winning designs will be announced in an online event.

Contest Guidelines:
PDF Download

Voting Period:
February 8-17, 2021

Winners Announced:
March 1, 2021

In Japan the phenomenon “date-masuku”
– style mask or mask chic – refers to surgical masks worn as a fashion accessory.

The word “quarantine” derives from a 15th century Venetian order.

In Japan this summer, cooling-type face masks were sold in refrigerated vending machines.

An Edo Period woodblock print illustrates a patient in a medical clinic wearing a face-covering.

During the 1918 influenza outbreak, in San Francisco, an individual not wearing a mask could face fines, imprisonment, or both.

A 1937 film “depict[s] a kiss with protective mask to prevent infection during a flu epidemic in Hollywood.”


  • Rama Chorpash

    Rama Chorpash

    Associate Professor of Product Design,
    Parsons School of Design, School of Constructed Environments

    Rama Chorpash is the founding director of the MFA Industrial Design program at Parsons School of Design in New York City, where he is a tenured associate professor. Before shaping this forward-thinking graduate program, he was director of BFA Product Design, Parsons and BS Industrial Design, University of the Arts. His pedagogy cultivates critical making; exploring what products are, what they could be, and how they might tangibly posit positive change in an uncertain world. He is also a recognized Fulbright Specialist through the US Department of State. While engaged as an academic, Rama Chorpash also balances a creative-practice where he has worked with clients such as Victorinox Swiss Army, Ikea, and Swatch Watch. His designs have traversed a broad spectrum of project types, from innovative office furniture for Herman Miller to a celebratory roller-skate disco in Central Park with avaf and the Public Art Fund in Central Park. Embedded in each project is an exploration of social-use.
    Work has exhibited coast to coast, from the Museum of Modern Art, New York to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has had feature profiles in publications such as The New York Times Style Magazine, The New Yorker, and Co.Design | Fast Company. He has had the honor of being listed by Elle Décor as one of the ten most influential people in design.

  • Julie Pastor

    Julie Pastor

    Curatorial Assistant, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

    Julie Pastor is a curatorial assistant at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where she develops and organizes major exhibitions and publications on modern and contemporary design. Her recent projects include Willi Smith: Street Couture (2020), The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility (2018), The Senses: Design Beyond Vision (2018), and By the People: Designing a Better America (2016). Her current research explores the relationship between design and epidemics and how changes in health care impact the design of products, buildings, and cities. She holds an M.A. in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture from the Bard Graduate Center and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin.

  • Jean-Emmanuel Shein

    Jean-Emmanuel Shein

    Global Director, Sustainability UNIQLO USA LLC. / Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. Japan in New York

    My name is Jean-Emmanuel Shein. I first joined UNIQLO in Ube, Japan as its first “Westerner” in early 1997 and have had the honor and pleasure of being part of many company firsts on the marketing and strategy side – from the first store in Tokyo’s Harajuku in 1998, to our first stores in London and our first stores in the US. Now as member of the Sustainability Department I am part of a new wave of firsts focused on supporting our communities from a social and environmental perspective, including the distribution of millions of masks to US essential workers in the early days of the pandemic – as such, I am quite familiar with masks and their importance in our collective fight against the virus.
    I live outside of NYC with my loving family which includes my spouse, two collegiate daughters, a rescue Chihuahua mix and two aging, but kind and very soft cats.

  • Ambassador Kanji Yamanouchi

    Kanji Yamanouchi

    Consul General of Japan in New York

    Appointed Ambassador and Consul General of Japan in New York in September of 2018, Kanji Yamanouchi is committed to utilizing his years of experience to craft a new chapter in U.S.-Japan relations that will fit the economic and political demands of the 21st century, as well as the strong nation each has become. Ambassador Yamanouchi joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 1984 and has served in a vast range of posts, including his most recent as Assistant Minister/Director-General for the Economic Affairs Bureau at MOFA headquarters. In New York, Ambassador Kanji Yamanouchi has been initiating cross-cultural collaborations, among endeavors in many other fields, to deepen ties between Japan and the U.S.

  • Yasuko Uchida

    Yasuko Uchida

    Director, The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles

    Yasuko Uchida serves as Director of The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles where she engages in developing wide range of programs and grants aimed at supporting Japanese language education and presenting cross-cultural programs in the United States. Before coming to the United States, she served in positions such as Director of Educational Training Section, the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai, and Master of the Ceremony at the Imperial Household Agency. Her overseas experiences include Director of JF Bangkok, Thailand, as well as JF Sydney, Australia.

  • Masaya Shimoyama

    Masaya Shimoyama

    Director General, The Japan Foundation, New York

    Masaya Shimoyama serves as Director General of The Japan Foundation, New York and Director, The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, New York; he arrived in New York in September of this year. He has served in various positions at the Foundation’s Tokyo headquarters including, Managing Director of the Japanese Language Division II, the Asia Center, and the Financial Affairs Department. In addition, he has severed in a number of overseas posts, most recently in Paris at the Secretariat for JAPONISMES 2018, the Director General of JF Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and his first overseas post was in JF Jakarta, Indonesia.


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