No purchase required, consideration for others strongly encouraged.

Weather-wise, summer can be a bit strange in Japan. On the one hand, the temperatures are high and the sunshine is strong, so you’ll want to make sure you have sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, or maybe all three when venturing out for the day.

But on the other hand, the Japanese summer is so humid that there’s an ever-present chance of thunderstorms, so quite often you’ll want to remember to carry an umbrella. Or not, if you’ll be passing by one of these specially equipped vending machines from Japanese beverage company Dydo.

In 2015, Dydo started an experiment in its home town of Osaka, offering “rental umbrellas” from select vending machines in the city. That was actually a bit of a misnomer, though, sine the umbrellas are actually free to use, and are actually given out merely with the request that users return them to a Dydo vending machine once they’re done using them.

Cynics might think that sounds like a great way for Dydo to lose a bunch of umbrellas, but this is Japan we’re talking about, and users have been so conscientious about returning them that Dydo has expanded the program across most of the nation, with Tokyo now included in the generous initiative. The company has announced that its free-to-use umbrellas will now be available at roughly 500 vending machines, 190 of them in the eastern Kanto region, of which Tokyo is a part.

▼ Even if you can’t read Japanese, the distinctive notice pasted onto the machine lets you know the umbrellas are OK to borrow.

Aside from being incredibly hospitable, Dydo’s loaner umbrella system is environmentally friendly as well. A portion of the umbrellas are supplied by rail operators, such as Japan Railways, Tokyu, and Tobu, who often end up with supplies of unclaimed plastic umbrellas that passengers accidentally leave behind when exiting their trains. Rather than throw them in the garbage, salvageable umbrellas are cleaned and refurbished with new handles for use in Dydo’s program.

▼ The Dydo mark and Japanese-text notice of “rental umbrella” should help to discourage unscrupulous types from hanging on to them permanently.

And the most generous part of all is that Dydo doesn’t require you to purchase anything from the machine in order to borrow an umbrella. All the same, like we said, it does get hot and steamy in the summer here, so purchasing something to stay hydrated with isn’t a bad idea, especially since Dydo is the same company that sells such cool things as drinkable shortcake and Pikachu fruit juice.

Source: Dydo via IT Media
Top image: Dydo
Insert images: Dydo

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