Wagasa, the poetic and practical Japanese umbrella

10 Aug 2016 in Discover Japan

130 million umbrellas are sold each year in Japan, or more than one per person! But these umbrellas were used in a completely different way when they first appeared in the 8th century! Discover how the Japanese are now giving a new life to these iconic objects...

Umbrella design project

130 million umbrellas are sold each year in Japan, or more than one per person. They are made out of fabric or clear plastic or with printed patterns, and they protect from the rain but also the sun. Japanese women, who take good care of their skin, use them as soon as there is any sun out to protect and maintain the whiteness of their skin.

Wasaga umbrella

But although the modern umbrella is above all useful, its ancestor the Japanese umbrella, which appeared at the end of the 8th century, is now a particularly aesthetic object. Still used in several occasion such as weddings, during the tea ceremony or in Kabuki plays, the “wagasa” – the Japanese umbrella – remains a powerful image of Japan. Admired for its beauty and fine workmanship, the wagasa is made out of bamboo and washi paper – the equally famous Japanese paper.

Exterior umbrella design

Although the object retains a practical aspect, it is also, and has been for a long time, used as a fashion accessory. The wagasa protects from the sunshine, but can also be a stunningly decorative object. Decorated with traditional patterns, the Japanese umbrella can also even be placed on the ground as an ornamental item, as Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya has done in its gardens.

Japanese umbrella

With the arrival of summer, the gardens bordering the teahouse in the hotel’s grounds are adorned with coloured umbrellas, lit up at nightfall by lanterns placed just beneath them.

Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya

The result is the most beautiful effect and provides a certain magic which compels you to prolong your evening stroll along the ground’s paths. A special moment, marked by romance and poetry.

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