Raining Champions: Japan's 10 Cutest, Cleverest & Coolest Umbrellas
If your umbrella succeeds in keeping you dry in the rain and/or shaded from the sun, then everything else is just gravy. Well, it must be raining gravy in Japan 'cause the country's umbrellas take effective rain & sun protection as their starting point and run with it. Where they end up is anyone's guess... but be sure to bring your umbrella with, just in case.
Back in my salad days, everyone had a Vegetabrella and dressing was optional. Tokyo-Noble's cool, crisp and tasteful brolly design works well enough when open but it really comes into its own when the storm passes.
Roll it up and fasten it closed with the attached, rubberband-like Velcro strap, then don't be surprised if supermarket security stops you on your way out of the store. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Tokyo-Noble)
Umbrella For Two
There's nothing quite as warmly romantic as walking through a gentle sun-shower with your loved one... and nothing quenches those fires of the heart faster than an umbrella made for one failing to keep the two people sharing it dry.
Thank goodness Thanko has addressed this crucial issue with the Odemukae Umbrella For Two. This single-shafted umbrella measures 750 mm by 1,204 mm (about 30 by 48 inches) and when folded is virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary, un-romantic umbrella. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Thanko)
Yuento Magic Umbrella
The Yuento Magic Umbrella may appear to promise more than it can deliver... really Yuento, “magic”? Then again, anyone who's witnessed the unfortunate results of stowing a rain-soaked portable umbrella in their purse or backpack has certainly uttered a few curses and evil spells against the weather gods.
Yuento has designed the Magic Umbrella to sleekly and smoothly slide into its own handle after use – wet or dry. The sealed handle keeps water inside until you're in a place where the umbrella can be stretched out to dry. Well played, Yuento, well played. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Impress Watch)
Don't you just hate having to carry an umbrella around with you in case it rains? Sometimes it doesn't even rain at all and you've dragged the blighted thing all over town - rain in vain, as it were. Someone in Japan who was either fed up with the situation and/or had far too much time on their hands decided to do something about it.
The result is the Umbrella Necktie, a fashionable (well, sort of) accessory that, assuming it doesn't rain, performs the functions of TWO useless items while keeping the hands free to ward off swarms of adoring females. That's gold, Japanese Jerry, gold! (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Mindwerx)
From swords to parasols: modern Japan would seem to be awash in Ikemen; image-conscious, well-coifed, metrosexual lads known in some circles as “herbivores” as opposed to their traditional hard-living “carnivore” forebears.
All these fashionable young dudes are prodigious cosmetics users who blanche at the thought of harsh sunlight tanning, drying and wrinkling their baby's-bottom-smooth skin. The horror! That's why a stylish Men's Parasol embellished with suave and masculine fabric is de rigueur when risking the wrath of those nasty UV rays. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Rakuten/Kasaya)
Bright Night Illuminated Umbrella
On dark rainy nights one might wish their umbrella could double as a lampshade... and now it can! The Bright Night Illuminated Umbrella from Japan's Century company features a cool-running, high-output 6v krypton light bulb mounted just beneath the open umbrella's highest point.
The battery-powered bulb can stay lit for 3 continuous hours, and who walks in the rain at night for even half that long? The umbrella's fabric is treated with a water-repellent coating and it's available in five different color/pattern combinations plus a slightly smaller child-sized version in high-visibility "StrideLite" fabric. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Sirobako)
Komorebi “Light Through The Trees” Umbrella
Komorebi is a Japanese word that describes the rare and special phenomenon that occurs when leafy trees overhead filter sunlight. It's also the name of Mitsubai Tokyo's new rain & shine umbrella/parasol that features photorealistic graphics of leafy trees.
Raise it on a sunny day and you'll be taking Komorebi wherever you go, which is Mitsubai Tokyo's whole point. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via White Rabbit Express)
Imagine if a huge gust of wind turned a regular clear vinyl umbrella inside out and then, instead of holding it over your head, you pointed it downwards at a 45-degree angle. Why would you do that? To keep you dog dry, that's why!
Now thanks to the clever folks at Lieben and their blandly-named Pet Umbrella, there's no need to mangle a perfectly good bumbershoot – you'll need it to protect your own person. The art of holding two umbrellas at once plus a dog leash is your own issue, however. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Lieben)
Wine Bottle Umbrella
It's raining and you've been invited to a party. You grab the bottle of bubbly only to arrive BYOB-less. If this sad sob story seems familiar, then you must own a Wine Bottle Umbrella from Tampo-po. You might also be a cheapskate who's happy to have an excuse not to buy booze for your buddies but that's another story entirely.
The Wine Bottle Umbrella doesn't advance the science of overhead rain protection much but it does get a handle on the art of umbrella handle design. It's ergonomic as well, especially if you're more in the habit of carrying wine bottles than portable umbrellas. (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Tanpo-po)
A good umbrella keeps its users dry and protects them from being rained on. A better umbrella goes, er, one better by keeping its users even drier by way of an integral battery-powered fan.
Thank Thanko for this clever combination of a bumbershoot and a blow dryer though its name, “Fanbrella” might just be a little too cute. How it works verges on genius, however. The three-bladed folding fan mounted at the inner apex of the Fanbrella banishes humidity in rainy weather and cools users when in parasol mode. Last but not least, a light mesh net just below the fan keeps errant hair from becoming tangled in the spinning fan. Doesn't that just blow you away? (Cool Japanese umbrella image via Thanko)
10 cute umbrellas with 10 clever features... wouldn't it be cool if ONE umbrella sported them all? Then again, Japan's high & dry economy could use a boost and if every citizen bought 10 umbrellas it certainly would get one. (Cool Japanese umbrella images via AdGang, top, and Pileus, above)
J A P A N O R A M A