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Japanese umbrella culture

Posted by QEQ Intern | 02.23.15
An umbrella on a road.

An cheap umbrella is thrown away on the road.

Are Japanese umbrellas disposable? If you visit Japan on a rainy day, you might think so. According to this articlethere are some interesting differences about umbrella culture between Japan and North America.


In Vancouver, even though it’s often rainy, people don’t use umbrellas much. They don’t even bring umbrellas. When it becomes heavy rain, people finally start to use umbrellas. In Japan, however, we seldom see people who don’t use umbrellas on rainy days.


Japanese use umbrellas even during light rain, like a drizzle. They use umbrellas as if they can’t live without umbrellas! Also, even when the rain stops, some people use umbrellas when they see others using umbrellas – they don’t want to stand out from the crowd by closing their umbrella first.


In Japan, umbrellas are for sale everywhere. You can purchase umbrellas at grocery stores, convenience stores, and even small kiosks at the train stations. Also, they are very cheap. We can find umbrellas costing only $1 very easily. Because of the convenience and low cost, Japanese don’t care if the umbrella is stolen.


There are two kinds of umbrellas available in Japan. One is not cheap and made by waterproof cloth. Japanese buy this kind of umbrella with great consideration. It is not for temporary use and they use and store it carefully. If this kind of umbrella is stolen, the owner will be upset.


Another kind of umbrella is cheap, made from plastic, and not well-designed. Normally, Japanese buy this kind of umbrella for temporary use. It’s common when this kind of umbrella is lost. Of course we feel bad when our cheap umbrellas are stolen but it is not such a big deal for us. Also, on rainy days, everyone places their umbrellas in the same location when visiting a store or at the office. Every umbrella looks very similar and is difficult to recognize their own; it is common to take someone else’s umbrella and leave your own. This incident is also not a big deal. With these cheap umbrellas, an umbrella is just an umbrella. That’s why in Japanese culture, we don’t care too much about umbrellas.


 written by Yuki, Japanese intern