A venerable dyeing company in Japan has been attracting attention with its cloth face masks featuring the mouth of a dog, cat or other animals, providing a touch of amusement amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mizuno Some Koujyo Co., based in Hokkaido, came up with the products in the hope of "brightening up the mood in these dark times." There are 20 different designs, including the mouth of a pig, lion and gorilla, it said.

The idea first emerged when an employee addressed the current face mask shortage by making her own, using leftover "tenugui," a Japanese washcloth, and made it look like a dog's mouth. The company said its workers found the mask cute and amusing.

Mizuno Some Koujyo is also converting its washcloths with traditional Japanese patterns and dotted design into masks, according to the company.

It has been selling over 100 masks every day. "It'll be a refreshing change. I might purchase about three," a businessman in his 40s said. He had traveled to the firm from the city of Sapporo after his wife asked him to buy some.

Founded in 1907, the company has its employees make the washable masks using sewing machines.

The animal mouth masks cost 1,320 yen apiece, while other masks are sold for 770 yen each. They are available in some stores and on the company's official website.

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