Particularly during the autumn typhoon season but even through all types of weather, Japanese people like to keep an umbrella at hand to protect from the elements. Surprisingly, since ancient times when it was developed, the umbrella has seen little in the way of substantial improvements. Sure there have been upgrades in collapsibility and wind-resistance features, but the general structure of a parasol and all the arguable flaws inherent with it remain. This is where Japanese company h-concept steps in and hopes you buy their Unbrella which aims to rectify everything wrong with the traditional umbrella. For the hefty price tag of 9,450 yen (US$95) they seem confident it’s got what it takes to do it.
Japan is a country that loves their umbrellas. Rain or shine, lolita or businessman, everyone enjoys the security of a swath of plastic or cloth above their precious head. However, this time of year poses a particular problem for parasol lovers, when mother nature flings typhoons at East Asia like so many spitballs at a blackboard of the Pacific Rim.
The result for most pedestrians is a nasty combination of heavy wind and rain where one wrong turn of the corner can instantly result in your umbrella becoming the world’s largest and most depressing shuttlecock.
Foreigners visiting Japan for the first time might be taken aback by how widespread the use of umbrellas is. Sure, during rain storms umbrellas make sense, but even during pleasantly sunny days you’re likely to see enough women putting up parasols to make you think the Bauhaus were in town.
Even this is understandable as “the Land of the Rising Sun” is not just another pretty name. In the middle of summer the often cloudless skies leave us at the mercy of the sun’s unrelenting rays. Combined with a lack of trees in many urban areas there’s simply no escape. And with pale skin traditionally considered to be a sign of beauty and elegance, it’s no wonder so many women still carry a parasol, but it would seem that the heat is getting so bad these days that men, too, are bit by bit turning to a once exclusively feminine accessory for relief and protection.
What better way to brighten up a rainy day than with a cute girl shielding you from the downpour? And if you can’t find a girl to hold your umbrella, then maybe a girl on your umbrella is the next best thing…
A common image of the Japanese city is a concrete jungle of towering skyscrapers, tinting the night sky with the vibrant light from countless neon signs. But while you definitely can find those urban landscapes in downtown districts like Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Osaka’s Namba, take a short train ride into the suburbs and things can be very different.
My own apartment is in the most populous ward of Japan’s second biggest city, but one block away from the shopping arcade there are no sidewalks to be found, and street lights are few and far between. Add in a storm that cuts down visibility even more, and a walk home from the station can be a little unnerving.
Thankfully, PC and cell phone peripheral manufacturer Century has a solution for both problems with their light-up umbrella.
Most people prefer to open their curtains in the morning to find bright, clear skies waiting for them, but with the arrival of the rainy season (known as 梅雨 tsuyu, and written with the characters for “plum” and “rain”) here in Japan we‘ve got a long stretch of wet weather ahead. If that has you down, perhaps channeling your inner superhero when you wake up in the morning and stepping out with this ninja sword umbrella will brighten your day. And if fantasizing about slashing enemy combatants isn’t your thing, maybe the romaine lettuce-inspired Vegetabrella from Tokyo Noble is what you need to put a smile on your face.
Take a look at these five rainy day inspirations helping ensure Japan stays dry during drizzling days of June.
With all the temperature and humidity regulators at work on a commercial aircraft, it’s not uncommon for a little condensation and leakage to happen from time to time.
The dripping itself isn’t a big deal but when you’re strapped in a chair next to a sleeping 300-lb man, the annoyance factor gets amplified. As captured in this photo aboard a Cathay Pacific flight, one man decided to deal with it by pulling out his trusty umbrella.
However, surprisingly, the act of opening a parasol mid-flight is a violation of Hong Kong aviation regulations and could land this man in prison.
On rainy days, especially in Asia, a dozen or so umbrellas can be seen sitting outside of stores and other buildings. For thieves or people with momentary rain-soaked lapses in conscience it the perfect chance to get a free bumbershoot.
To combat this we have the Lizard Umbrella – a 2012 Red Dot Design Award-winning concept by inventors Kim Seokhui, Kim Seongjin and Kim Dasol.
If you’ve ever seen footage of the Japanese Empress Michiko holding an umbrella over her shoulder on a rainy day, you might find yourself in awe of how gracefully she pulls it off. If it were me you would see my arm struggling back and forth with the wind as my face grimaced in annoyance.
The fact is that even though it looks like they are holding simple plastic parasols. The Imperial House as well as politicians in Japan use specially made umbrellas from a maker with nearly 300 years of experience.
And now you can too, but it’ll cost ya.
The staff of an umbrella shop in Tokyo recently must have their work cut out for them these days as they explain to confused customers why boxes of lettuce are sitting in their displays. The answer, of course, is Vegetabrella; a fusion of two completely ordinary yet completely unrelated objects, an umbrella and a head of lettuce.
Since March 8, you may have been seeing umbrellas around Tokyo printed with graphics for a new Xbox 360 and PS3 mahjong game.
It’s said that man has been using umbrellas to shield himself from the rain for roughly 4000 years. Over this time, the basic structure of the umbrella has never deviated far from the convenient, hand-held device we use even to this day.
However, ever visionaries of the future, the Koreans have taken inspiration from the limitless possibilities of space to bring us a new form of umbrella that surpasses the bounds of human invention. They have brought us…the UFOCAP. Read More
Near the end of March it was announced that Japan had officially entered the rainy season. As the days get hotter and the showers come and go many of us tend to take refuge inside until the sun comes out to stay.
Yet there is no need to succumb to melancholy in this fickle weather! For even if you happen to get caught someday in the rain, we’ve found several umbrellas that can make the rainy season a little more fun. Read More
With another hot, humid summer approaching fast here in Japan it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing people walking along the street fanning themselves to cool off, or holding umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun—and the occasional rain. But haven’t you ever thought it incredibly inconvenient to fan yourself whilst holding an umbrella?
Apparently somebody else did, too: now, thanks to the ground-breaking ‘Fanbrella,’ you’ll now be able to stay dry and keep cool with just one hand! Read More
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