Our reporter gets a rude surprise while trying to ethically sheathe his umbrella.

These next few weeks tend to be the rainy season in much of Japan, where you pretty much have to keep an umbrella on you at all times to avoid a sudden soaking. Stores and offices must also find ways to deal with all the dripping wet sticks brought in by customers and staff.

Back in the day, a rack would be next to the front door where people would keep their umbrellas while they shopped. However, possibly due to an increase in thefts, those holders seem to be gradually fading away.

▼ Where have all the umbrella stands gone, long time passing

Often what you’ll find instead is a rack of long and narrow plastic bags that slip over most sizes of umbrella. This allows people to hang on to their valuable protection from the elements while not having to worry about making a mess on other people’s floors.

However, our writer P.K. Sanjun immediately noticed a problem with this system. Unlike other plastic shopping bags, these are too narrow to be reusable and are usually full of dirty rainwater by the time they are finished anyway.

So, in a sense they are the epitome of single-use plastic in that their entire lifespan usually isn’t longer than an hour before they are tossed in the garbage pail placed next to the rack on customers’ way out.

P.K. believes he has found a simple but elegant solution to this dilemma, however. Rather than taking a new bag, he just grabs a discarded one and reuses it. It doesn’t really matter anyway since another person’s rainwater isn’t any different from his, and as a result he is making no negative impact on the environment.

It was a system that has served him well through many a rainy season, but this year something unpleasant happened while P.K. was visiting a government office.

Walking in through the entrance, P.K. began to peruse the garbage pail for a relatively dry sleeve to use for his umbrella. Suddenly, from behind he heard an older woman whisper to her friend, “He must be poor, hehehe.”


Like a vinyl bag over an umbrella, rage enveloped our normally gentle and easygoing writer.

▼ “Wha? What?! Am I especially bothering you hags?! How do I know your saggy asses aren’t the ‘poor’ ones, huh? Is there something wrong with trying to help the environment? Tell me; What have you done for the Earth, besides covering up your own bodies’ toxic stench with layers of cheap perfume?!”

Of course, he didn’t actually say any of that out loud to the women. Instead he moved on, and while taking a moment to glare back at them, he could see them gleefully shove their gaudy floral umbrellas into some crisp new vinyl bags.

P.K. had trouble brushing off that slight, but he knew he was in the right. What they said didn’t make any sense anyway, because all the bags were free. It wasn’t like that was an actual dirty garbage can either since it only had wet plastic bags inside. Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing.

Illustration: Shoko Inaba
Photos: SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]