All About Japan

Navigating Japanese Umbrella Culture

| Rainy Days
Navigating Japanese Umbrella Culture

On rainy days, Japan is awash with umbrellas, ranging from the cheap, easily obtainable transparent variety to the more expensive, automatic kinds. There are even hydrophobic ones. Don, a.k.a. The Japan Guy, attempts to get to the bottom of this Japanese umbrella obsession.

Umbrellas in America

When I lived in America, I don't really remember using an umbrella all that often. Not having one back home could've been because I was so car-reliant. I had to drive everyday to get from Point A to Point B because the public transportation, MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rail and Transit Authority), in my town has more limitations than it should have. Because I was always driving, it meant always having to find a parking deck or parking garage.

In the U.S., parking is about as ubiquitous as it gets. Unless it’s just a super-busy day, or if you’re in a traffic-congested, downtown city block during a special event, you should be able to find a parking space that’s pretty close to the entrance of the store/destination that you’re going to.

Umbrellas in Japan

Japan is extremely different from America when it comes to umbrellas. It seems like everybody, their mother and their grandmother has an umbrella. On a rainy day, you'll see tons of them. You see men and women riding bikes riding in what I like call the “rain joust position"* that I've found so ineffective (find out why in the Typhoon Post).

Rain Joust Position?

*The “rain joust position" is my name for the way people ride their bikes with one hand, while simultaneously holding their umbrella in the other at like a 35- to 45-degree angle. I don’t recommend trying this with an opaque umbrella, because you can’t see what’s in front of you!

Umbrella Racks

Umbrella Racks

At nearly every business establishment or public building that I've been to during a storm, there's an umbrella rack of some kind that’s loaded with umbrellas. Some of these racks are simple, while others are pretty hard-core. For example, at Joyful Gym, there are there two large umbrella racks. One rack is just a standard rack with numerous holes for people to put their umbrellas in. The other rack is one with individual locking mechanisms. There's actually a small combination dial at each hole that’s used to lock your umbrella while you go and work out. I’ve never even tried using the latter rack because it just seems like a bit much.

Be sure to follow the link below for the full torrential post, including some info about why those lockable racks might matter!

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