Umbrella and Japan: a love affair
Japanese people have a gift to feel when it is going to rain. As soon as the first rain drop drops, they all get their umbrella open.
I come from Belgium. In Belgium, it rains a lot, and often. Rain has many feelings: cold, big drops, small drops, a wall of rain, ... Nevertheless, nobody has umbrellas.
In Japan, rain has sounds: pala pala (a little rain, you can see through the drops), zaaa zaaa (cats and dogs), ...
And everyone has an umbrella. Everyone forgets her/his umbrella somewhere, so it makes me think that they owns several umbrellas. Remember, I come from a rainy country where nobody has an umbrella (I received one when I was 12 years old, and much much later I still have it... quite brand new thing). So, I still need to master the way to control open umbrellas when walking in the street. Still need to master the way to open an umbrella when walking out of the metro, the shop or the bus... it does need some practice!
If you are looking for a typical Japanese souvenir, this is it: get an umbrella. You may find fancy ones, even branded ones, large size, small size, umbrella with small flowers, rain drops, cats, telescopic or not, in any shopping mall and department store.
You may find the plastic ones at any convenience store. I prefer the plastic and transparent one to the black of burberry type one. It makes the day of my friends back in Belgium!
How do they keep their shopping mall clean?
If you come to Japan and it rains, do not get depressed. You have just been given your Indiana Jones time to discover many unique things they have invented.
The most sophisticated one is the umbrella-cover-machine. It covers your rain-soaked umbrella with a plastic bag to protect the flooring from getting soaked, slippery and dirty.
This system seems very simple but it is not. Several years ago, you would not have been able to get your plastic bag in one single movement, without any miss. You might need to try several time before getting your umbrella water proofed... Today, it is possible. They have developed the equipment and plastic that can handle any umbrella size, diameter, there is no miss... one zip. 2 seconds. Quite amazing actually.
And next to the machine, you have a dust bin to throw away your umbrella protection when you leave the shop...
You cannot really stop technology, can you?