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Umbrellas 2006/6/1 11:04
Outside almost every store there's a rack with umbrellas. Are these for free using? Or do they belong to anyone spesific (customers inside the store)? A man once offered me to keep his umbrella, or maybe it was an umbrella from such before mentioned rack?
by Zeeve  

... 2006/6/2 18:15
If you are talking about umbrella racks immediately outside the entrance to restaurants, shops, etc., those belong to people inside :) Even on sunny days there might be some left (some people might forget to take theirs with them once the rain stops), but those are not for free use by anyone passing by...
by AK rate this post as useful

... 2006/6/4 07:40
My (half-Japanese) friend told me that it is quite common for some people (mostly younger people I'd assume) to just take umbrellas from those kind of racks when in need. I got the impression that these people would simply go for the closest umbrella when in need, and when not in need anymore they would just put it down somewhere else. One guy, he told me, even took an umbrella from a parked bicycle. :p During my stay one of my friends (an American) had his umbrella taken and after expressing his irritation he simply took another one.

I guess this attitude comes partly from the fact that umbrellas are relatively cheap (at least compared to in Sweden!) and that they're easily available when it rains. (I was in a shop when it suddenly began to rain and thunder outside and the shop personel wasted no time in bringing out a big bucket of cheap umbrellas.)

Now I assume this custom of just picking up some other person's umbrella isn't very wide spread but I thought I'd ask none the less, if any of you people who live long term in Japan have anything to say about this? :) Is it common? And is it viewed as a problem, or are people generally fine with it?
by Kristian rate this post as useful

... 2006/6/4 13:33
It's true umbrellas, especially those sold at convenience stores and drugstores and all that, come pretty cheap... and thus they became really temporary utensils rather than personal belongings. But to me stealing is stealing, so I wouldn't do it, and I would frown if I knew someone was simply taking someone else's umbrella. (Me = J woman in my 40s; my view shared by my European spouse, a long-time resident in Japan)

WHat happens sometimes is that restaurant or some other establishment that keeps a rack immediately inside/outside the shop entrance, let's say, finds some umbrellas left in it for a long time, over days and weeks, clearly left by customers who are not coming back to get them... then the shop manager might keep them in the back office, to be given out or lent to other customers who came in on a cloudy evening which turned to pouring rain later... THis has happened to us sometimes, and we always take them back the next day or so to thank them and to return the umbrellas. So what happened to Zeeve mentioned earlier might have been something like that, that he got offered an umbrella.

Sadly, in any case, it is true that umbrellas tend to disappear.... so when I'm walking around with my favorite umbrella (no the 300 yen or 500 yen one) I keep it with me in the restaurant... or the other way around, I do not take my best favorite umbrella unless I know that my umbrella would be quite safe in the place(s) I'm going to; meaning, the place has either cloak service, umbrella racks with locks, or some of those plastic umbrella covers available so that I can keep it with me at all time. To some people umbrellas might simply be a tool, but to me they mean a bit more, they are like my purse or coat :)
by AK rate this post as useful

Every post makes sense 2006/6/4 15:35
Long time Japanese resident here, and all these posts make sense to me.

First of all, no matter how cheap or how ugly, possession is possesion. If you bring something from your home, I think it's natural to expect to bring it back to your home. And from our parents and teachers, we were always taught not to take other people's belongings without asking.

However, I do agree that the Japanese care less about taking other people's umbrellas (as well as taking other people's bicycles when you're drunk). It's almost like an unwritten rule.

I can give you examples. I once forgot a valuable umbrella (okay, it wasn't valuable enough to be not forgotten) at a famous Americanized bar in Tokyo. I went back the next afternoon, and it was gone. I spoke to the owner and the owner just smiled and said, "Well, take someone else's from that rack". I didn't.

It also seems common for (especially male) workers to take whatever umbrella from the rack at their office. I'm _embarrassed_ to say that my husband does this too, and he says he always returns them but never really does, which is one of the reasons we have so many cheap umbrellas at our house.

A client invited me to dinner once. We met at his office. I'm the guest and he's supposed to act very respectful in front of me. He takes a random umbrella from the office rack. "To take whatever is available is our golden rule." he jokes.

So the shop around my corner has a sign above the umbrella rack telling you to take your umbrella inside with you if you think it's valuable.

Apart from this, of course like in any country, there are umbrellas kept solely for customers to use upon sudden showers. These can usually be used by say hotel guests and be returned when they return to their rooms. But of course in this case as well, you are suppose to ask and make sure you can bring them out.

On a related note, as far as I know, the top item in JR lost and found have been umbrellas for a long time. Umbrellas makes Japan go round.
by Uco rate this post as useful

PS 2006/6/4 15:38
I think taking other people's umbrellas in Japan is a little bit like littering. You know it's against the law, and you know that it disturbs other people, but you do it anyway.
by Uco rate this post as useful

. 2006/6/5 02:45
I find it never endingly annoying during the rainy season when my brand new umbrella(s) disappear after I come back out to the front of the shop to fetch it. I'm not talking about Japan its the norm everywhere...

Most shops won't let u take the dripping wet umbrella inside the shop either.
In Japan I always ended up using those transparent ones. :(
by Rouge rate this post as useful

they RECYCLE 2006/6/5 05:02
--------Most shops won't let u take the dripping wet umbrella inside the shop either.----------

That's true in Japan, however, if you put your dripping wet umbrella inside a plastic bag to carry, most shops don't mind and you will notice many people doing exactly that (when shopping) because they don't want to loose their umbrella.

Don't know about Tokyo where Uco lives.

It's the mess and the damage to their merchandize from dripping wet umbrella is what they are concerned with.

If it's a cheap kind, most Japanese people leave it on the rack or leave it period if it's no longer raining. Japanese recycle umbrellas because there are so many left behind that way.

The people with their personal kind would hold on their umbrella
and put in a plastic bag to carry. It's hard enough looking for your umbrella on a rack like your bicycle if you don't mark it.

by cc rate this post as useful

.. 2006/6/5 05:52
Most shops won't let u take the dripping wet umbrella inside the shop either.
In Japan I always ended up using those transparent ones.

I notice with the small shops yes, I also notice with the larger department stores and malls at the entrances they have free umbrella covers (just a plastic bag, you put it inside and pull and presto your umbrella is covered from dripping water!)

If I had a more expensive umbrella with me, or would usually bring my own cover or find a place with a umbrella rack that has a key lock.
by .. rate this post as useful

bags and locks 2006/6/5 07:48
"Don't know about Tokyo where Uco lives."

As .. suggested, in larger malls and department stores all over Japan, disposable bags and such are available. Or some public run facilities often have locks on their umbrella racks.

It's interesting to know however that some people debate on the waste of those disposable umbrellas when all you have to do is to bring your own bag. They don't know that non-disposable umbrella bags are quite commonly available for sale. (although I always forget to bring mine from home:))

I live in Tokyo btw, which is pretty much next door to Tokyo.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Where Uco lives 2006/6/6 00:05
Not only is Tokyo very close to Tokyo, but YOKOHAMA is also very close to Tokyo :)
by watagei rate this post as useful

. 2006/6/6 00:13
Yes in department stores they always have this machine where u just feed ur umbrella thru it and it'll be inside this plastic umbrella bag.

Unfortunately at a lot of restaurants or outside smaller shops not part of a larger complex don't have it.

In fact some umbrellas have this built in plastic-shield thingy which can be closed up - but those are damn ugly!

As for non-disposable umbrella bags can they be used for longer umbrellas instead of the short ones (most short ones come with one when u buy them right?)

by Rouge rate this post as useful

.... 2006/6/6 02:08
---------As for non-disposable umbrella bags can they be used for longer umbrellas instead of the short ones (most short ones come with one when u buy them right?)As for non-disposable umbrella bags can they be used for longer umbrellas instead of the short ones (most short ones come with one when u buy them right?)-----------

If it's not too long, it will fit.
Most people use retractable umbrellas.

You need a plastic bag not those cover bags retractable short ones come with, that won't do.
Need a plastic bag.
If you're a foreigner from USA just take a tall plastic kitchen bag (you can easily carry in your pocket or purse until nature calls). That'll do until you poke a hole in it.
by cc rate this post as useful

Thanks Watagei, and Rouge, it's huge 2006/6/6 08:02
Thanks for remembering that I live in Yokohama, Watagei-san! Sorry, for the mistake, everyone!

Rouge, there are vinyl bags that are big enough to hold any umbrella. Mine comes with a strap to hang on your shoulder, and it doesn't even have a hole at the tip.
by Uco@Yokohama rate this post as useful

borrowing umbrellas in Philadelphia 2007/12/19 23:32
Hi! We have a new concept in Philadelphia, USA that is called Dutch Umbrella. It's named after the bike sharing system in the Netherlands, but is more like the unfortunate situation in Japan where umbrellas are taken when in need, even if it's not their umbrella. I've had a couple people tell me that in Tokyo you just take an umbrella from outside a shop/store if it starts raining. They made it sound like that was the custom. Thank-you for the clarification that if they do that, they are stealing. In Philly the system alleviates that problem. The store owners pay to have the service and advertising on the umbrellas. The public is invited to use them and return to any other location in the system when done. Maybe Tokyo should do the same?
by Karen Lee rate this post as useful

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