Wagasa (Japanese umbrella)

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A traditional craft that injects style into the rainy season

Wagasa, or Japanese umbrellas, are a prominent feature of jidaigeki dramas set in premodern Japan and nodate outdoor tea ceremonies. Imagine using this stylish item in daily life. It just might blow away the melancholy of the rainy season! Making a wagasa involves more than a hundred different steps. It takes a dozen seasoned craftsmen and several months to complete. And there are myriad types, from the janome-gasa, which looks like a serpent’s eye when opened, to the economical bangasa loved by the common people of Edo. Sukeroku, in Kagurazaka, is an established specialty store that has served celebrated figures like author Kan Kikuchi (1888–1948) and poets Tekkan and Akiko Yosano (1873–1935 and 1878–1942). Inami Shoten, in Asakusa, is the only remaining wagasa merchant in the footwear wholesale neighborhood of Hanakawado. In the past, many geta sandal merchants also sold wagasa, as both products are made from wood and bamboo. Sukeroku and Inami Shoten still offer wagasa for sale today.

Sukeroku

Address

3-6 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Hours

10:30~20:00  (Closed 2nd and 3rd Sunday each month)

Access

5-min. walk from JR Iidabashi Station

Contact information

Tel 03-3260-0015

URL

http://www.sukeroku.in/

Inami Shoten

Address

1-10-14 Hanakawado, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Hours

8:30~17:00 (Closed 2nd and 3rd Saturday each month, Sundays, and holidays)

Access

3-min. walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Asakusa Station

Contact information

Tel 03-3841-9524

URL

http://wagasa-inami.com/

Check this out!

Reproduction of a wagasa merchant’s building
Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

In Tokyo Metropolitan Koganei Park is the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum. And in the museum’s East Zone is the display Kawano Shoten, a wagasa merchant’s building constructed in the Koiwa area of Edogawa-ku that once flourished with wagasa craftsmen. The interior reproduces a wagasa merchant’s store from around 1930. The museum exhibits some 30 other buildings that reproduce architectural designs from the Edo period (1603–1868) to the early Showa period (1926–89).

Address: Koganei Park, 3-7-1 Sakura-cho, Koganei-shi, Tokyo
Hours: April–September 9:30–17:30 / October–March 9:30–16:30 (Closed Mondays, or the following day when Monday falls on a holiday / Last admission 30 minutes before closing time)
Access: From JR Chuo Line Musashi-Koganei Station or Seibu Shinjuku Line Hana-Koganei Station, bus to Koganei-Koen-Nishiguchi
Contact information: Tel 042-388-3300 (Switchboard)

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