August 26, 2016
KNOWLEDGE

Umbrella That Sells 8,000 Pieces
a Year in Japan

日本で年間8,000万本売れる傘

Just Like Oxygen and Water

Have you ever heard of vinyl umbrella, which is an umbrella made out of clear PVC? You can easily find them in shops like convenience store and kiosk, and for Japanese people its existence is almost as equal to oxygen and water. This is the best selling umbrella that sells 8,000 pieces a year. You may think “Do you really need that many umbrellas?”. However we Japanese are often surprised when we hear foreign people do not really use umbrellas with small rain. This is because the rain in Japan won’t stop that easily, and it doesn’t help to shelter under some roofs because again really, it doesn’t quite stop. Japan is a country with high humidity, so once your garment is wet it will take some time to get dry. You also carry laptops and phones which you wil like to avoid them from getting wet. In addition, there are many of heavy squalls (mostly noted as “Guerilla Rain” in Japan) happening a lot in recent years. If it starts to rain on a day where everybody is without their umbrellas, then that’s the time people run into shops to get hold of the vinyl umbrellas.

まるで空気や水のように

あなたは、私たち日本人が通称「ビニ傘」と呼ぶ、透明ビニールを張ったチープな傘をご存知だろうか。コンビニやキオスクなどいつでもどこでも買え、日本人にとって、まるで空気や水のように身近な存在のビニ傘。年間8,000万本売れる傘のベストセラー。「そんなにたくさん傘が必要なの?」とあなたは思うだろうか。海外の人々は、少々の雨では傘なんてささない、と聞くと私たちは逆に驚く。日本の雨は、ちょっとやそっとの雨宿りではなかなか降り止まない。湿度の高い国だから、一度濡れた服はすぐには乾かない。PCや携帯電話など、濡れると困る持ち物も多い。加えて近年、ゲリラ豪雨も多い。そうした理由で私たちは、傘の用意がない日に雨が降り出すと、一斉にビニ傘を買い求める。

An Hook-Up Umbrella, Not the Real One

According to a record, it is said that vinyl umbrellas are consumed everyday, to the point people buy it at least one every year. There should be one real good umbrella in your house, which is much more well made and expensive than vinyl umbrellas. Let’s say you call that a love-of-your-life umbrella, then a vinyl umbrella will be your casual hook up that you have to get one occasionally and suddenly where you cannot resist? They are normally treated as one off and disposable umbrellas, though there are some good sides to it too. Fist of all it is made out of clear PVC which gives you 360-degree panorama view. You can notice of any bicycles that are running into you. Second of all it is light weight. Last of all it is cheap.

「本命の傘」とは違う「浮気の傘」?

ビニ傘は日々消費され、統計によれば日本人は毎年平均1本以上の傘を買うという。大抵は誰しも自宅に、ビニ傘よりも高価でしっかりとした傘を持っている。その傘を「本命の傘」と呼ぶなら、出先で急に調達しなければならなくなったビニ傘はさしずめ「浮気の傘」といったところだろうか?
“その場限りの使い捨て”感覚で、どこか私たちから軽んじられているビニ傘だが、しかし利点も多い。まず、透明で視野を確保しやすいこと。近づいてくる車や自転車にすぐに気づける。次に軽いこと。そして、安いこと。

A Cinderella Story Behind Vinyl Umbrellas

After its birth in 1958, invented by a Japanese rainwear company, vinyl umbrellas have been the convenience tools for people, and it is changing by years. Although, its image as “disposable umbrella” has long been the hardest label to wipe off with. Then there comes the chance for vinyl umbrellas to gain honourable status.
In 2010, Empress Michiko has appeared in the garden party with vinyl umbrella the very first time. The reason for her choice is that so she can look at the faces of her guests clearly. The umbrella she has used is called “En-Yu”, by a company White Rose Co., Ltd. from Taito-ku, Tokyo. Assembling their years of inventions such as “easiness to use and non-stickiness when wet”, “reduction in wind resistance to decrease the weight at its handle”, and “a water proof satin fabric handle”, White Rose umbrella is acclaimed as world’s number one vinyl umbrella and world’s first formal vinyl umbrella.

ビニ傘、シンデレラストーリー

そんな利点の多さから、ビニ傘は日本の雨具メーカーで1958年に開発されて以降、各方面で重宝され、進化し続けてきた。しかしなかなか安物の使い捨てというイメージを払拭しきれずにいたところに、 由緒あるステイタスを得るきっかけが訪れた。
平成22年の園遊会にて美智子妃殿下が初めて、ビニ傘をご使用されたのだ。「集まってくれた方々へ、顔がよく見えるように」とのご配慮からである。その際に採用されたのは、東京都台東区ホワイトローズ社製の「縁結(えんゆう)」。「濡れてもベタつかない使いやすさ」「風の抵抗を和らげ、持ち手の負担を減少する仕掛け(特許)」「豪華な防水サテン生地のハンドル」など、ホワイトローズ社の数十年に及ぶ技術の結集により「世界一のビニール傘」「世界初のフォーマル用ビニール傘」と高く評価されることとなった。

Using the Clear View Feature

White Rose Co.,Ltd. is also producing vinyl umbrellas that are especially for politician’s street speech. Its clear view feature is thought to be useful for their speech as the listeners can see the face. Also fact that its handles are made hard to slip away and is wind resistant, White Rose umbrellas are favoured by politicians as they can “win the election by being strong with headwind and will not slip away from the picks”. The umbrella is named “Kate-ru” which in Japanese means “winning”.
Kids umbrellas partially use PVC material as well. For kids it is better to hold umbrellas that are mainly with colourful prints as they are short in height. That way it is easier for cars to recognise them in the rain. Kids umbrellas come with few small clear PVC windows, and it is been favoured by parents that this can secure the front view even for the kids who tend to walk by looking down the street, thus they can commute to kindergatens safely.

「顔が見える」特色を活かして

ちなみに同社は、選挙の街頭演説用のビニ傘も売り出している。街頭演説においてもやはりビニ傘の最大の武器である「相手に顔がよく見えること」をはじめ、同社の開発した滑りにくい持ち手、風に強い設計が重宝され「選挙に勝てる。逆風に強く、滑り落ちない」と評判が評判を呼び、縁起担ぎの意味からも「カテール」と命名されている。
また、日本の子ども用の傘は、一部分にビニールを使用しているものが多い。背の低い子どもがもつ傘なので、全面がビニールよりも、大部分に色が入っている方が車からの視認性は高い。少しだけビニール窓がついているので、うつむいて歩きがちな子どもも前方の視野を確保でき、安全に登園・通学ができる、と保護者からも評価が高い。

To the World’s Fashion Umbrellas

Japanese vinyl umbrellas have increased its attention world wide now, and there are many of the notable brands producing the same kind of products in recent years. There are even vinyl umbrellas that can cost about more than ¥20,000. Umbrellas invented by FULTON, which is a brand in London that holds Royal Warrant, and has gained its popularity after the Queen Elizabeth and and also the Duchess of Cambridge appearing with holding the FULTON umbrellas.
If you have any interests towards vinyl umbrellas, it maybe another way to have fun looking at vinyl umbrellas in in department stores with different colors and brands. There are several unique vinyl umbrellas from anything anything to cheap to expensive.
There is a trend gong on where you put some stickers and masking tape around its handles to avoid from making them look the same. If you come to Japan, please have a look and try about the vinyl umbrellas.

世界のファッションアイコン・アンブレラへ

日本初のビニ傘は世界中に広まり、近年有名ブランドも続々とビニ傘を打ち出している。中には2万円を超えるものまで登場しているとか。英王室御用達ブランドFULTONのビニール傘は、エリザベス女王やキャサリン妃も愛用していることから人気が高まっている。
あなたがもしビニ傘に興味をお持ちなら、日本にお越しの際、デパートや百貨店で色とりどりの美しいブランドビニ傘を眺めてみるのも楽しいかもしれない。今季は特に、各社からさまざまなデザインのユニークな高級ビニ傘が売り出されていて、女性や高齢者への贈り物としても喜ばれている。
コンビニやキオスクで安価に入手できるビニ傘も、最近は他人のビニ傘と区別をつけるために、ウォール・ステッカーを貼ったり、持ち手に派手なグリップカバーを付けたり、マスキングテープで彩ったりと、ちょっとしたDIYで個性を出す人も多い。
日本独自の「ビニ傘」文化、来日の際はぜひ持って、眺めて、お楽しみいただければ幸いである。

writer / MARY SANADA
photographer / HIROTO ITAGAKI

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