lifestyle

Japan under siege by broken umbrellas

16 Comments

Japanese love their umbrellas. Rain or shine, lolita or businessman, everyone enjoys the security of a swath of plastic or cloth above their precious head. However, this time of year poses a particular problem for parasol lovers, when mother nature flings typhoons at East Asia like so many spitballs at a blackboard of the Pacific Rim.

The result for most pedestrians is a nasty combination of heavy wind and rain where one wrong turn of the corner can instantly result in your umbrella becoming the world’s largest and most depressing shuttlecock.

After hearing that heart-wrenching “pffft” sound of an umbrella dying, people in Japan seem to do one of two things.

1) Hang on to it until you get to a trash receptacle

This would seem like the polite thing to do especially since you’re forced to walk around with your now cumbersome and useless hunk of metal and plastic like some lovable hobo.

However, as website Byokan Sunday pointed out, inadequately sized garbage cans force these modern-day Buster Keatons to simply lean or hang their umbrellas next to the bins as a testament to how useless they are in this situation.

2) Drop it and just keep moving

People choosing this option lower the arm to the side, let the umbrella fall out of their hand, and walk away avoiding eye contact with anyone.

Both methods of dealing with wind ruined umbrellas have drawn the scorn of netizens who both mourn the loss of Japanese manners and fear for their lives should a sudden gust of wind hurl a twisted heap of metal and translucent plastic at their heads.

“On the way to the station I saw littered umbrellas everywhere.” “Seriously, everyone stop littering umbrellas… I saw 5 but they’re like weapons.” “Littering isn’t good in the first place, but umbrellas are really bad because they can fly.” “Seeing a broken umbrella stuck into a bed of flowers really aggravates me.” “Please deal with your broken umbrellas the right way.”

Unfortunately, the “right way” to deal with a mangled parasol isn’t so clear for many people. Their awkward size and sharpened frame can make them difficult to throw away by conventional means.

Nevertheless, something needs to be done to curb this epidemic of mildly criminal behavior that threatens to undo the very fabric of Japanese society. If some plucky entrepreneur could get a cost-effective umbrella recycling program set up they could stand to make a pretty penny.

Source: Byokan Sunday

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16 Comments
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400 yen for the vast majority of those umbrellas which are easily replaceable in a disposable society.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If some plucky entrepreneur could get a cost-effective umbrella recycling program set up they could stand to make a pretty penny.

Some plucky entrepreneurs are already making a pretty penny by exploiting cheap overseas labour to make these planned obsolescence (unrepairable) umbrellas for next to nothing and selling them for a huge markup to people in Japan, who still find them cheap enough to toss. It's an example of capitalism at its ugly best, when legal, social and moral brakes have too many years ago failed.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The best idea of recycling an umbrella is to hang it and "forget" it in the train. The Metro/JR staff will take care of your umbrella using the ultimate ECO recycling procedures on earth.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"Both methods of dealing with wind ruined umbrellas have drawn the scorn of netizens who both mourn the loss of Japanese manners..."

Hate to point out the obvious, but if people in Japan are doing this it's not the 'loss of Japanese manners', it IS Japanese manners. The 'loss of traditional morals' or something might be apt, but whatever.

I guess they need to start placing umbrella receptables somewhere. The last umbrella I had go crazy on me during typhoon 23 (I think it was) I ended up just leaving in a rain gutter. I carried it for a while, trying to fix it and looking for a garbage bin, but nothing. Thought about taking it all the way to my work place, but there's really nowhere proper to throw it out there, either. Sorry peeps. I usually don't pollute.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Take it home with you then, why would you take umbrella in a typhoon is beyond any common sense... how would it expect it to stand typhoon wind in the first place ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hate to point out the obvious, but if people in Japan are doing this it's not the 'loss of Japanese manners', it IS Japanese manners. The 'loss of traditional morals' or something might be apt, but whatever.

I completely agree with you smithinjapan. Yes, I know and understand that a lot of people here will class us as Japan bashers, but I honestly find their arguments very dogmatic - just insisting over and over again that Japanese don't do this stuff when it is clear they do.

But why anyone would walk outside with one of the cheap plastic umbrellas when it is rainy on an extremely windy day is beyond me as they break so very easily.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Give up on umbrellas during typhoons...use helmets like the news reporters do. You will stay much drier then using a bent backwards umbrella.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Alex Einz, can you believe I saw some broken umbrellas in the area where people run around Imperial Palace? Unbelievable!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

silvertongue... when you see someone throwing one, pick it up and give it back, worth doing it just for the bewildered look

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That's because Japanese don't seem to like hoods. I see so many umbrellas when there is a typhoon as if people don't understand how useless they are in heavy wind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

However, as website Byokan Sunday pointed out, inadequately sized garbage cans force these modern-day Buster Keatons to simply lean or hang their umbrellas next to the bins as a testament to how useless they are in this situation.

Er, what has Buster Keaton got to do with carrying a broken umbrella?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here is an idea. Dont use it in heavy wind like a typhoon. Good god. I cant tell you how many times wachted umbrella after umbrella just explode and the the person next to them think their umbrella wont do the same. Oh it did! what about the next person. Theirs is special right? nope!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

LiveinTokyo: "But why anyone would walk outside with one of the cheap plastic umbrellas when it is rainy on an extremely windy day is beyond me as they break so very easily"

I completely understand the logic of that argument, but as I was walking three km to work I though I'd try to avoid getting COMPLETELY drenched. It worked for a while, and if you can hold it against the wind it works that much longer, but in the end this one time I tried it the umbrella got blown out and was useless. Now, I DID leave it at a place I know was a garbage collection site, but hey. I do have a poncho, but no rain paints. Oh well.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Er, what has Buster Keaton got to do with carrying a broken umbrella?

http://www.doctormacro.com/Images/Keaton,%20Buster/Annex/Annex%20-%20Keaton,%20Buster%20%28Steamboat%20Bill,%20Jr.%29_02.jpg

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A small subsidy to conbinis to have an umbrella bin, and a connection with a rebuilder/recycler, might help the problem. Really, umbrellas aren't burnable trash, so even tossing them there isn't quite right. People will put them where they belong more readily if there were such a place.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

darknuts:

That's because Japanese don't seem to like hoods.

Yeah, what's up with that? I have heard Japanese people mention a few times that people who wear hooded rainwear look like fushinsha (suspicious person) but I see a lot of those every day, even without hoods.

I guess using flimsy umbrellas at all times follows the logic of wearing black suits in 35-degree heat or the ladies switching to their Ugg boots in September 'cause the calendar says it's autumn.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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