In the United States April is known as the month of showers, at least anecdotally, so it seems appropriate to start the month off with a post about umbrellas.

In Japan, a country which receives 60 or more inches of rainfall a year, a kasa orUmbrella umbrella is of course a very familiar item. These hashioki appears to be a kind of traditional Japanese umbrella, known as a wagasa, which are made from lacquered bamboo ribs which do not bend or curve, and then covered with paper which has been oiled on the bottom side to make it waterproof.

Wagasa are frequently used as props in kabuki plays. They are also a popular design motif in Japanese textiles, ceramics and lacquerware. Wagasa also sometimes play a supporting role in ukiyo-e; artists such as Hiroshige depicted twisted or flattened umbrellas to convey the power of a strong rain storm in woodblock prints.

IEnryakuji Mt Koya – Version 2n Buddhism umbrellas are sometimes used in a procession, as this photo taken in October 2016 at Enryku-ji on Mt. Hiei shows. In this case the red umbrella symbolizes spiritual power, and is held over the head of the person regarded as the wisest man in the procession.


Last but not least, umbrellas make a pretty good hashioki, too.


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