Ah, June in Japan. The season of warm weather, early sunrises, and sudden guerrilla storms that come out of nowhere, soak you right down to the underpants, and then leave you steaming in your soggy drawers for the rest of the inexplicably bright day.
Naturally, in ultra-prepared Japan, it’s easy to pick up a plethora of rainy day goods like rubber shoes, foldable ponchos, and hands-free umbrella hats. But with such unpredictable skies, it’s honestly a huge pain in the butt to have to schlep around a crowded city carrying a bunch of bulky rubber and plastic accessories.
Enter Tokyo’s new, state of the art umbrella-sharing service! It’s a step up from last summer’s honor-system secondhand umbrella vending machines because you don’t get stuck with a soggy, moldy old umbrella when you can’t find another vending machine to return it to. Instead, you can pick up a brolly when rain threatens, and then use your phone’s GPS to return it at another location in the city as soon as the skies clear.
The so-named “iKasa” service actually began in December of last year, and for for a mere 70 yen a day you can rent an umbrella at one of the pickup/drop-off stations across Tokyo, and also in Fukuoka prefecture down south.
To use the service, you’ll need to add the “iKasa” account to your friends on the Line messaging app, and then link your credit card or Line Pay account. That done, simply use your phone’s GPS with the app to locate one of the umbrella stations, or “Spots”, and scan the QR code on the handle of the umbrella to access a three digit code, which can be used to unlock the umbrella from the stand.
You can technically keep the umbrella as long as you want, but you’ll keep being billed for it until you return it to another “Spot” and scan the QR code located on the stand to confirm that you’ve returned the umbrella.
ll of this might seem like a little bit of a hassle, but it’s better than carrying a bulky umbrella around all day or having to shell out 500 yen a pop for an umbrella from the convenience store if you happen to get caught in some of Japan’s pelting rainstorms this rainy season.
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