Remember all of those umbrellas that were abandoned in train stations in October and November this year during the typhoon season? Well at least one station in Tokyo definitely does, but thankfully they’re putting a few of them to good use: by turning them into surprisingly pretty Christmas trees.
With thousands of cheap convenience store-bought umbrellas left behind each year following sudden downpours, Tokyo’s station staff are often burdened with the arduous task of collecting and disposing of them properly. It was sad to see tens of battered, and in some cases perfectly good, umbrellas left in and around refuse bins at inner-city stations earlier this year, left behind after protecting their user from barely a few minutes of heavy rain.
But as I stepped off the downward escalator at one west Tokyo station on the JR Chuo Line, I was surprised to see this rather fetching example of Christmas creativity and recycling.
Viewed from a distance, this looked like an ordinary Christmas display, perhaps something put together by local school kids in an effort to brighten the station up. Drawing nearer, however, I noticed that the frames of these “trees” were in fact umbrellas – the kind you can pick up at a convenience store for around 300 yen – minus their clear plastic sheeting, each decorated with a few white Christmas lights.
Pretty cool, I’m sure you’ll agree. I just hope that this kind of eco-creativity doesn’t encourage lazy commuters to leave even more umbrellas behind come the next rainy season, convincing themselves that by doing so they’re simply contributing to next year’s Christmas display.
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