The “tsuyu” or rainy season in Japan means the return of rain boots and umbrellas. In fact, if you happen to see an aerial view of the streets of Tokyo during this time, you will likely be fascinated by the sea of umbrellas present. You would think that this scene is only possible during the really heavy downpour days, but actually, even for a little drizzle, Japanese people already use their umbrellas because they hate getting wet.
Because of the influx of umbrellas during this season, there is a unique product that makes its appearance in Japan. It is called “kasapon” which is derived from “kasa” which is the Japanese word for umbrella and “pon” which is an onomatopoeia which means “something magically appearing.” It is named that way because kasapon is an automatic umbrella sleeves dispenser wherein you put your umbrella and it gets quickly encased in a clear plastic – just like magic!
Kasapons can be seen outside stores and establishments all over Tokyo. Culturally, it is considered a nuisance in Japan for people to bring their wet umbrellas inside an establishment because then it will drip all over the floor and inconvenience the people managing the store who has to clean after you. Of course, what some people do in this case is that they leave their umbrellas outside. But then by doing that, you run the risk of it being confused with someone else’s umbrella, or being accidentally pushed or kicked away by rushing pedestrians.
Because of its efficiency, kasapons have become widely popular in Tokyo. There are even some variations that are able to squeeze out water from your umbrella, leaving you with a nice clean and dry umbrella that you can now safely bring inside the store with you.
Kasapons are very easy to use. All you have to is to hold your umbrella, place it inside the kasapon, and sort of pull it towards you, and you have yourself a plastic-encased umbrella. Once you’re done with whatever business you have inside the establishment you went into, you most likely will need to use your umbrella again. So what do you do with the plastic sleeve that you used? Don’t crumple or throw that away just yet. All you need to do is to find another kind of kasapon which removes the plastic sleeve from your umbrella and stores it away for you. Isn’t that convenient? So that you don’t get confused, remember that the kasapon for removing the plastic looks different from the regular kasapon in that it only has a hole on top, and instead of pulling your umbrella towards you, you need to pull it up to retrieve it from the kasapon.
It is amazing how Japan comes up with things that you never realize you needed until you saw them. Then when you use these items, you can’t imagine how you survived without them in the first place. This is also the case with the kasapon. Well done, Japan!