September in Japan is the bridge between summer and autumn, with warm humid days mixed in with cool nights and passing typhoons dumping some of the year’s highest amounts of rainfall around the country.
With the rain set to continue, umbrella sales are in full swing at the moment, and some of the best ones here are simply magic. They won’t send you flying through the air like Mary Poppins, but they will reveal hidden secrets when the rain begins to fall!
When dry, these unsuspecting umbrellas might seem plain but add water and all sorts of gorgeous patterns appear. So how does it work? We take a look at the science behind the magic with five particularly gorgeous designs.
The transformation process doesn’t take long at all. After just moments in the rain, tiny formations begin to take shape and then before you know it, the shade looks entirely different.
▼ Sakura cherry blossom designs are among the most common for magic umbrellas.
▼ If you’re extra lucky, you’ll be able to find cat-patterns!
▼ Anchors are another unusual design.
▼ For something more traditional, try a kamon family crest motif.
But how does it all work? This isn’t quite as complicated as you might imagine!
The shade-cloth is treated with a combination of water-repelling and water-absorbing agents, so areas that soak up water become darker than the other areas.
The water absorption is effective for both large patches and thin outlines, which allows for all sorts of designs.
▼ Including Totoro!
▼ No Face from Spirited Away might look lonely…
▼ But all it takes is a spot of rain and the world of Spirited Away appears!
While a range of magic umbrellas can be purchased online, the two Ghibli designs are available from Donguri Kyowakoku stores. If you’re here for a short visit, be sure to take a look around popular tourist areas because there’s often a selection of different umbrellas on sale for visitors. As something both practical and memorable, this might be one of your best souvenir purchases!