Japanese Umbrella Etiquette
February 2, 2019
Japan is a wonderful place to visit and many of us dream of one day walking the streets of Tokyo. It does have a pretty serious rainy season though and when it rains the last thing anyone wants is to be caught in a downpour without an umbrella! And we all know Japan is a country with high personal manners so you don't want to be caught unaware. Here are few tips to help you stay dry and avoid a rainy day faux pas.
Where to Find Umbrellas for Sale
If you get caught outside in the rain, the easiest thing to do is run to a convenience store, both to hide and to buy one of the very popular plastic clear umbrellas. However most people carry with them a large umbrella —since the ones sold at the convenience stores are only up to 70 centimeters (nearly 28 inches) and only cost around ¥500. They're great in a pinch, but beware! They don't always hold up to strong winds, and weren't made for long-term use.
If you're going to stay in Japan for a while, you too may want to invest in a stronger , more stylish model. You can find umbrellas for sale at department stores like Atré, big electronic stores like Bic Camera as well as specialty stores like COOL MAGIC SHU in Tokyo.
Don’t Make a Mess!
In Japan, there are plenty of ways to avoid creating puddles indoors. Outside of convenience stores there are often small racks where you can temporarily leave your wet umbrella. In some places, such as larger museums, these are even lockable.
If there are no racks, it’s quite likely there will be a sponge to dry off your umbrella, or an umbrella bag dispenser. Simply insert your umbrella into the dispenser, pull, and voila! Your umbrella is drip-proof. There are usually bins to deposit used bags in when you're done, so be sure to dispose of them properly!
Office buildings or shopping centers with several floors might have umbrella dryers. They’re almost like a carpet on wheels—just swipe your umbrella through until it's dry enough to fold up without worry.
It is to be expected that, at some point,in the worst scenario, a big gust of wind will fold and break your umbrella. Not only does it render the umbrella unusable, but it becomes a piece of trash that you have to carry with you as a reminder of its failure and betrayal. Some people leave the broken brolly in the previously mentioned racks outside convenience stores, or simply dump it in the street. Don't be like them!
Since umbrellas are so big—and Japanese streets and sidewalks can be quite narrow—it's sometimes difficult to navigate without getting in someone's way. Try your best to lift your umbrella up or down accordingly as someone approaches you. A see-through umbrella (and a little mindfulness) can help with this!
It's also important to consider how you handle your umbrella when it isn't open. Japanese cities can be quite crowded—especially in train stations and shopping centers—so please be mindful of how you carry or hold your umbrella indoors as well. No one wants to be on the business end of a neglected umbrella!
Now you know to handle your umbrella in Japan, the only thing to do is to buy that plane ticket and enjoy travelling!