How to buy Japanese umbrellas?
It is believed that the first umbrella was brought to Japan during the reign on emperor Kinmei in 552 by the king’s Seong of Baekje messenger.
At first it had a form of a hat with a canopy, serving not like a rain wear, but rather like a sunshade and protection from evil.
It used to be an exclusively aristocrats’ accessory, symbolizing power and authority.
However, as the time passed, a concept of umbrella has undergone some changes, got localized and started to be used as a rain protection, too.
Some scrolls dating back to 14th century depict noblesse with big umbrellas. However, at that time umbrellas were used only in an opened state and couldn’t be closed.
The technology to actually close an umbrella was developed in Azuchi-Momoyama period (end of 16 century), but became widely used in the latter half of the Edo period (1603 – 1868).
As an evidence of the fact that umbrella became a daily necessity item, it appears on many traditional ukiyo-e paintings of the Edo period.
Painting by Utagawa Hiroshige depicts sudden rain
In movies and plays ronins (samurais without a master) often make umbrellas as a side job.
In fact, there are some documents which prove that by the end of the Edo period, when financial situation of the clans has become difficult, even samurais of the lower ranks were making umbrellas in order to improve their clan’s state of affairs.
Umbrellas have undergone a long path of various improvements to become an integral part of the traditional culture, an item embodying Japanese aesthetics.
For example, check this collection of 24 bone umbrellas with Japanese style patterns:
They are very light, yet strong.
Materials: 100% polyester, Teflon coating, glass fiber, wooden handle
Brand name: mabu
Available for order here