With supplies of face masks and sanitizers running short amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some municipalities have begun to offer such items as gift incentives as part of the furusato nōzei (hometown tax donation) system rather than local products like meat or fish.

The government of the city of Sennan in Osaka Prefecture began offering handmade gauze masks under the program to attract tax-deductible donations, but had to suspend the item due to a surge in orders.

Since switching to a mask made of toweling earlier this month, the city has drawn more than 700 donations in about two weeks. The mask, produced by local towel manufacturers who face increasing competition from low-priced Chinese towels, is said to be comfortable and absorbent.