Traditions around the world #1 - Japanese umbrella culture

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Every country has its own fascinating traditions that amuse us and broaden our horizons. We enjoy sharing these beautiful and sometimes bizarre customs. This time we visit Japan during the rainy season.
Japan is a country with fascinating culture, drawing in thousands of tourists every year. There is one particular custom that comes to light during the rainy season, starting from the end of May until the end of July. The rainy season is often referred to as the fifth season and is, understandably, very unpopular.

Umbrellas are considered common property

Japanese behavioural researchers, who were interviewed on the subject, explained the phenomenon as follows: In Japan, umbrellas are not regarded as valuables, but rather as a public good, that can be used by anyone. If you find yourself caught in a downpour of rain without an umbrella, simply take the nearest one. On the flipside, when placing your umbrella in the stand at a cafe or restaurant, keep in mind that you are making it available to the public. Incidentally most Japanese use the same type of see-through plastic umbrella, making them impossible to tell apart.
For those who don’t necessarily want to give up their umbrella, there is a solution: Vending machines all around the city allow you to purchase a bag, in which you can safely place your umbrella and carry it around without it dripping. For those who really want to play it safe, there even are safes for maximum protection. However, these are mostly used by tourists.
Let's be honest, how many umbrellas have we left lying around? Perhaps the Japanese attitude, to consider them common property is a much better approach, given the very nature of the object.

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