Just what is it about Japanese style umbrellas that captured Salvador Dali’s heart? HIYOSHIYA may give you a hint or two.

If you’ve ever gone shopping for traditional Japanese souvenirs, you may have stumbled across a cheap version of Japanese style umbrellas (also known as wagasa). They’re usually made using wood and decorated paper. Unless you’re particularly graceful, you’ve probably ripped or torn the paper within a week or so of buying it.

▼ This is totally what I felt like with my cheap souvenir.

But we’re talking about the real deal here. Wagasa are made using bamboo and Japanese washi paper. The washi paper is decorated by hand and then carefully attached to the bamboo frame. Wagasa come in a variety of colors with a plethora of intricate designs, making them elegant and traditional fashion statements.

Spanish artist Salvador Dali was a notably avid wagasa lover. He’d use them when taking strolls on the beach (how romantic!), or use them as exotic home decor.

The umbrellas that Dali used were originally displayed at the Dali Theatre-Museum in 1959. Now, beautiful replicas of Dali’s umbrellas are being made. HIYOSHIYA, located in central Kyoto, has been working painstakingly on the replicas for about half a year now. They’re finally nearing completion.

From start…

…to almost finished! This shows the process of sticking the decorated washi paper to the bamboo frame. (I’m guessing the clips don’t come with the finished product.)

HIYOSHIYA has much more than just an array of some of the most beautiful wagasa you’ve ever seen. Painfully aware of the declining popularity of the traditional Japanese umbrellas, HIYOSHIYA sought out innovative new ways to keep its umbrellas in style.

For instance, here are some tennis-inspired wagasa for the tennis enthusiast that lurks inside each and every one of us.

You can also spice up your room with this wagasa-themed lighting.

Or, create a fruit display that will make all of your friends jealous (and maybe slightly confused) using one of these wagasa baskets.

HIYOSHIYA’s lighting in particular already has a thriving overseas market. They have information on their lighting collections and where to buy them (in English!) on their international website.

They have also offered “make your own mini wagasa” lessons to groups before. The group pictured above got to decorate and put together their own 30 centimeter versions of the umbrellas. If you’re in Japan, why not give it a whirl? The classes aren’t offered regularly, so you’ll have to contact HIYOSHIYA directly if you want to set something up.

Feel like taking a stroll on the shore with a HIYOSHIYA umbrella now? I sure do.

Shop Information
Address: 546 Dodo-cho, Horikawa Teranouchi-higashi-iru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
〒602-0072 京都市上京区寺之内通堀川東入ル百々町546
Telephone number: +81-(0)75-441-6644
Email: info@wagasa.com
Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 17:00 p.m.
Closed: Monday

Sources: Irorio, HIYOSHIYA
Featured image: Facebook/HIYOSHIYA
Image: Wikimedia Common/National Museum of Denmark (uploaded by palnatoke)