Sunday, April 27, 2008

Umbrella etiquette

Back to Japan.

These pictures are all from Tokyo, where it rains quite a bit, not unlike the Northwest. But NO ONE wears a raincoat (the Mister and i stuck out in ours.) They all use umbrellas. These umbrellas are available at pretty much every store along the street, the clear ones for as little as 300 yen (about 3 bucks.)

There is a complicated set of rules for umbrella usage. You should not take your wet umbrella into a building without putting a condom on it first.

There is an umbrella condom machine outside most large buildings. You just jam your umbrella in and yank it back out, fully encased.

Alternately, you can store your umbrella in one of these umbrella racks, where you put it into a slot and lock it in with the little numbered key.

It was also a windy day in Tokyo, as evidenced by this umbrella graveyard. One of many that we encountered that day. One advantage of a raincoat is that it doesn't turn inside out in the wind and become useless.

I have included this picture because ISN'T THIS JUST ABOUT THE CUTEST THING EVER?


I spent half an hour on the phone with my mother yesterday, who scolded me a little for not calling her sooner after we got back from Japan. She was mollified when i told her that Em and i had turned around and flown to Ohio.

Not once during the half hour did she ask about either the trip to Japan or the one to Ohio.



Irrelephant said...

A mirror world, as Wm Gibson would call it. Strangely alike, and yet strangely NOT. The adorable little tyke in the derby, could that be Britain's future Undersecretary for Brolly Behaviour perhaps?

Anonymous said...

You clever thing, you. Anticipating my question about whether the three dollar umbrellas turn inside out as soon as the merest gust comes by.

I always marveled at the NYC umbrella graveyards (or the lame ones, attempting to escape by blowing down an avenue, one rib dangling loose....)

Love the umbrella management systems -- Target has umbrella condoms by the front doors, but you have to put it on yourself.

fiwa said...

That is fascinating about the umbrellas. How strange - we wear raincoats and disdain umbrellas, and they are just the opposite. The umbrella graveyard ticklted me - I can't wait to show that picture to my husband.

I have a friend who's parent's are that way too. He called to tell them he was getting married, and they never even asked him when or to whom. How sad. Pat yourself on the back for being a different kind of mother to Em.

Gordo said...

I've seen umbrellas here with a built-in condom. It's like one of those collapsible plastic cups that seemed to be everywhere in the 70's and early 80's: when in use, it snugly fits around the umbrella. When not, it just sits around the tip.

So, how was Ohio?

flutter said...

I am about 50 shades of jealous right now. Mainly about your mom ;p

But really? that last photo got an audible "awwwww" out of me

TTQ said...

And just think it's almost Mother's Day. What will you give to her?

Anonymous said...

The Japanese are very organized with their umbrellage. I approve, heartily!

And that little girl? Could be the cover of the Japanese 'Madeline' series. Wonder what 'Madeline' would sound like in Japanese?

meno said...

irrelephant, Mr. Gibson is a smart man, and a good writer too. So you think this child is a future Bumbershoot Bureaucrat?

daisy, i guess i don't get out to Target enough, as i have never seen these here.

fiwa, i know, we were the only people we saw with raincoats and using our hoods (occasionally, we are from the Northwest afterall.) I too was amused by the umbrella management system.

gordo, i've never seen that. But it might be because here in the rugged Northwest, we distain umbrellas most of the time. Ohio was a success. She liked the college and will be going there.

flutter, you can have her (my mom.) I stopped these people on the street to ask them, in English, if i could take a picture of their ADORABLE child. I don't know if they understood my words, but they did understand the gestures.

ttq, ha ha ha ha. The same thing i get her every year.

jennifer, it's the hat that makes him/her (i actually don't know) so Madelaine like.

Anonymous said...

cultural differences are so interesting...I've heard tell that in certain places (probably your place) that you can tell the tourists because they're the ones using the umbrellas, then, on the other side of the world, the opposite is true.

there are some good colleges (and some really cool ones) in ohio, but the winters are horrendous. and it's very flat. I hope she enjoys it. and, it'll give you a place to visit. if I still lived there, I'd invite you over for dinner :)

SUEB0B said...

The Japanese impress me in strange and unusual ways. Toilet seats, umbrella racks...

Your mom is a prize-winner all right. She can go live with the exMrS - when I returned from 3 weeks in Mexico, he never mentioned my trip, instead spending the drive home talking for 45 minutes about a murder case that was in the news.

Mrs. Chili said...

Are you SURE our mothers aren't related?

Anonymous said...

Oh, good, not so many comments that I couldn't read all and learn that she chose a school! Congratulations! Except, uh, Ohio, huh? I think we might need a post on THAT.

I am unnerved by the umbrellage. (Umbrella carnage)

So, I don't suppose you know what the button thingy is for on s/his coat? Is that a mini umbrella condom?

(The first thing my mother said when I called on her birthday was "Is Lorenzo potty trained yet?" I should probably try to get a prescription this week, as she'll be back in town in seven days.)

Lynnea said...

I love the umbrella lockers. That is so cool.

As for your mom, well you know, it's understandable since she wasn't on either of those trips, there is really nothing for her to talk about on those subjects. Wouldn't you say? :)

Anonymous said...

my sister in taiwan has a very complicated set of rules regarding outside shoes and inside shoes, when and where they should be switched and which direction they should be facing. it's very intimidating.

Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing more of your photos from Japan. I must say that I never thought that I would hear the words umbrella and condom in the same sentence. As for your mom...well, had she asked you about Japan or Ohio, you might have thought you were speaking to someone else's mom.

Dick said...

Umbrellas and wind do not go well together. But it does make sense to go to the desert during our NW winters when it rains a lot. Then you don't need either umbrellas nor rain coats.

We don't get to pick our close relatives. Only friends.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Well, I guess it was about her.

That child is edible, and I love the idea of locking up your umbrella ever since some cretinous creep STOLE mine recently in a heavy rainstorm after I parked it in a store's umbrella bucket.

Nice pics, Meno.

Mona Buonanotte said...

We Americans think we'er SOOOO smart, shopping in the mall with our drippy umbrellas hanging off our arm. Then the Japanese invent not only umbrella lockers but umbrella CONDOMS?? If we can send men to the moon, why not invent umbrella condoms?!?

Anonymous said...

Your mother, I have a sister like that. Drives me crazy.

Marshamlow said...

What a wonderful travel journalist you are. I never saw the umbrella condoms, it is amazing how much I missed by staying at the military base and using the military hotel.

tt said...

Ya know...the japanese are going to take over the world with all their inventions! Not China their full of lead but there's some smarts over there.
The wee one is adorable! Bet you wanted to put her into your purse and bring her home huh? No?? She'd give you something to do whilst Em was away at college..yes??

Anette said...

I like the umbrella lockers! How clever!
Did anyone teach you these rules about things in Japan, or did you have to learn it all by yourself?

Tink said...

I am eating these post up.

meno said...

holly, there are certainly umbrella users here (wimps!) but i did not see a single raincoat in Japan. I think Em will be surprised by the winters. She's never lived anywhere with much snow.

suebob, I'm glad you and that jerk broke up.

mrs. chili, sad, isn't it?

de, i probably won't do a post on it, because i'm not going to post her location, but if you want to know, e-mail me. I like your new word, umbrellage. I see your mom is similar to mine. I'm sorry.

maggie, The umbrella lockers were all over the place. You are right about the mom, i should have realized. :)

franki, that is similar to Japan, although we didn't go to very many places where we had to remove our shoes. But i did take socks with no holes, just in case.

lynn, good point, how would i have known it was her? I never thought i would WRITE the words umbrella and condom in the same sentence.

dick, i think you are bragging about missing all this rain.

hearts, i wanted to eat that child too! Maybe we should get those umbrella lockers here. They were very clever.

mona, i know! I am wondering why i have never seen any of those things here. Although someone above says that Target has umbrella condoms, but not the machine that puts them on for you.

deb, sigh. I don't know why it continues to bother me, but it does.

marsha, where were you in Japan? Maybe this is only in the big cities.

tt, i did want to bring that child home, but the parents objected. Imagine that.

anette, we figured it out from the pictures and the limited english on the signs.

tink, i hope you are using a napkin young lady!

Em said...

Is it odd that I'm completely fascinated by this umbrella etiquette?!?! I mean, who would have thought of the condoms and the racks? What creativity.

Clowncar said...

That sticking your umbrella in and have it come out all condomized thingie is so very cool. I want one.

Enjoyed your blowing chunks joke.

TTQ said...

Same thing you give her every year? A case of wine and a bottle of xanax?

sari said...

do you still have that lawn chair?

ps love the pictures!

jaded said...

Perhaps your mom was simply disappointed you didn't bring her a $3 umbrella. ANd to think you probably wasted that $3 on a bottle of saki for her instead.

100 Thoughts of Love said...

Ingenious locker for the umbrellas...all the comments made me appreciate my mom and I will no longer take her for granted!!

Vanessa said...

Now are you sure you weren't talking to MY mother? That kind of behavior is right up her alley.

Interesting about the umbrellas, I had no idea!

Brad said...

Hello Meno! Thanks for stopping by. Good to find another local blogger. Now I'm off to check out your site. Pls. come see me again sometime.

crazymumma said...

yeah. and I want to hear about that reconnaisance trip for Em....

The umbrellas made me think of Bladerunner.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you thought to take photos of this (and other) stuff. Seriously; it's very interesting!

This post makes me commit to myself to be that Mom (when my kids are grown) who remembers to ask (even if I don't care) about my kids' adventures. A little bit of interest goes a long way....

Schmoopie said...

The first picture, with the colorful array of umbrellas, is way cool.

I work with a woman, born in Japan, who moved to the US when she was 30 years old. One thing I have noticed about her is that she loves order. Everything has its place. It is ironic that she is a preschool teacher!!

Your mother really is a piece of work!

Unknown said...

I am SO glad Em's found a good school!

So, uh, are you sure it was just the raincoats that made you guys stick out over there? ;-)

Cheesy said...

I now have a cavity! I would have made a fool of myself over her lol~~~

Sienna said...

I am in fits of laughter! The toilets, the monkeys, the umbrellas....laughing with you all on this you see.

Meno I got caught in Europe in the bloody toilet things that you pay per time per being cheapskate Pam and new at it, obviously never put enough $$ in the slot, and door flies open before I can even unwrap goddamn tampon!

Not a pretty sight.

Japan sounds wonderful, I loved the monkeys, spent time with some on Saturday actually, the amazon monkeys with the tail like a fifth leg, least I think it was a tail?

Meno, what does pwned mean?

(Glad you are home mate).


Irrelephant said...

Meno, you just never know, do you? You might also be looking at the next incarnation of the Sons of the Neon Chrysanthemum. (Wow, I actually spelled it right in one go.)

Candy said...

Just had to let you know I tagged you for a meme. Compliance is not mandatory ;)

egan said...

I love these Japan culture posts. I've never really felt the need to carry an umbrella around Seattle as you pointed out. I think a raincoat does the trick. Conversely, if you carry one in Seattle you seem to stick out as a tourist.

meno said...

em, as you can tell, i was fascinated by it as well.

clowncar, heh. glad you liked the joke. I like that one too.

ttq, a case of tequila and a bottle of seconals?

sari, the lawn chair is still sitting in front of our house, right where my dad dropped it.

patches, didn't bring her a thing. Only brought one present home, and it was a small one.

pat, glad we could help you appreciate your mom.

vanessa, seems to be a common mom theme. I don't know why i am ever surprised by this behaviour. You think i'd get used to it.

brad, will do dude!

crazymumma, we had fun, she's going there. I LOVE Bladerunner.

mrs. 4444, i just love this sort of odd stuff. I'm glad you do too.

schmooopie, i took a video of the people with the umbrellas crossing the street. I just couldn't get it to upload. I should try again.

nancy, why whatever else could it have been?

cheesy, i know, so sweet!

pam, it was a different place all roight (that's my Australian accent.) Toilets by the minute? Oh, what pressure. Pwned means owned, as in, i totally owned that game.

irr, good job on the spelling, it would have taken me a trip to

candy, resitance is futile?

egan, i agree, plus they suck in the wind.

Say It said...

The kid is adorable! And look at how efficient that umbrella system is. wow.

Say It said...

(notice I didn't comment on your mom)

Andrea Frazer said...

Wow, that's a lot of umbrellas. Sorry about mom. Cute kid. My comment is boring.

urban-urchin said...

It's the small details that the Japanese do so well. I see things like umbrella condom applicators and am impressed by the minutia.

Sorry about your mom...

Woman in a Window said...

How weirdly cool, is that? I love the picture of the umbrellas all locked up. Seriously revealing about Japan. What it reveals...not SO sure yet.

peevish said...

This is all terribly educational. I will feel so prepared if I ever get to go there.

Now tell us about the food, please.

AC said...

I wonder if folks there forget their umbrellas in that stand. I know I've owned probably 50 umbrellas in my life, used a couple times, and forgotten in some cart or under a seat.

I'd like to know all about the food too.Either in japan or in Ohio.

Diane Mandy said...

Who'd have thought umbrellas need protection! It looks as though Japan is a tremendously organized society, even putting Germany to shame!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating Japanese umby lore. I love the condoms and the little lockboxy thing. I would probably still forget the damn thing, you can't compel me to remember to take my umbrella.