The Most Popular Umbrella in Japan

Jun 29, 2010

It’s cheap, it’s useful – and it’s the No. 1 lost property item in Japan. Get your clear vinyl umbrella now!


A vinyl umbrella waiting outside a restaurant in Narashino.

A vinyl umbrella waiting outside a restaurant in Narashino.

Photo credit: Jacob Schere

I checked the London transport site to look for the information of Lost Property. Thinking of London's weather, the transport's inventory of 7,026 umbrellas sounds fewer than I supposed. In Japan, JR West released its Lost Property inventory: No. 1 is umbrella, No. 2 is hat or eyeglasses, and No. 3 is food, they said. The reason I checked them was because I had left my umbrella on the train a few days ago. I went to the lost property center of the Odakyu line. I said I left my umbrella on the train, and the staff asked me what kind of an umbrella I had lost. I answered it was just a clear and colorless vinyl one. Then guess what! He said, "We won't look for that type of umbrella.”

In Japan, this type clear and colorless vinyl umbrella is very popular. It costs around 100 yen to 300 yen or so, yes very cheap. Because it's cheap, we don't care if we break or lose it. That's one reason why it's the No.1 lost property item in this country. Actually at the office, so many people use that umbrella, it is impossible to tell which one is mine or yours. So we take one when it suddenly rains, without meaning any harm. People seem to think that the clear vinyl umbrella is freeware. Almost automatically, people collect vinyl umbrellas like this one. Ah, I do the same.

Almost automatically, people collect vinyl umbrellas.

Of course these umbrellas are easy to break. Actually after a typhoon or a heavy rain, we see these miserable umbrellas everywhere. As they are not so fashionable, I sometimes wonder what I should do with the ones I’ve got. But basically I use vinyl umbrella because the price is reasonable.

Anyway when I heard the Odakyu staff say "we won't look for that type of umbrella", I complained "Why?" I asked: "Even though it is just 100 yen, it is mine. Why are you telling me I should give it up!", blah blah blah. I must tell you this: To be honest, I didn't care about losing the umbrella. Since it was raining hard, they should have just given me a vinyl one anyway, since they didn't care who owns what. Don't you think?


Mari Kanazawa also blogs at Watashi to Tokyo.