Japanese Umbrella History │Japanese Umbrella Design

Today, we will discuss about japan’s another style icon that is Umbrella. This umbrella not only protect us from sun’s heat wave but also used as to show social status. Based on umbrella, we can know about the people’s family background and social status. This umbrella now become fashion icon for japanese ladies after hand fan.

  •  Wagasa, the traditional Japanese umbrella made from bamboo and washi (Japanese paper), is renowned not only for its beauty but also for the precision open/close mechanism. 
  • The first folding umbrellas appeared in Japan around the year 1550 (before that it used for protection purpose from sun light or rain), and they were initially luxury items.
  • Thereafter , during Edo period, wagasa became more accessible and people start using it not only for protection against rain or  sunlight (heat) but also as a fashion accessory.
  • Now, we’ll know about wagasa…. what is wagasa ??…. Actually, wagasa is so popular in the Japanese tradition that it  has its own spirit. The spirit of wagasa is called karakasa obake umbrella ghost a monster looking like- a folded wagasa, with a single eye and foot wearing a geta.
  • Still known today as a centre for the production of traditional Japanese umbrella, manufacture of wagasa, began in the Kano district of Gifu city in the middle of 18th century. It has been contributed a lot in the economy of Japan.
  • Now we will discuss about it’s production process…. The basic construction of umbrella involves affixing paper over a frame of bamboo strip ribs, and then applying oil and lacquer for water proofing. The raw material for umbrella was to be found   in the valley of Kiso river and  it was easy to obtain sesame oil and lacquer from the local mountain.  Wagasa’s paper is coated with oil to make it waterproof  and at the same time, the coated paper becomes more solid.
  • In addition to the usual type of rain umbrella , Gifu Wagasa also comes in various other types including- large red outdoors parasols that are used to provide shade on outdoor occasions.
  • Such as , tea ceremonies then there are smaller color Buyo-gasa – that figure in performances of traditional Japanese dance.    
  • Gifu Wagasa are an indispensable part of traditional Japanese art & culture. On the contrary, some Wagasa parasols are not coated with oil and thus they can not be used during rainy days but only as protection from the sun. These are mostly used by women.