Photo: Traditional Japanese Umbrellas Are Dried In The Sun Before The Rains Come

PHOTO: Traditional Japanese umbrellas are dried in the sun before the rains comeAhead of rainy season, Japanese-style umbrellas, or "wagasa," which are traditional local craft products of Nakatsu, northern Oita Prefecture, were drying in the sun in recent days before completion.
The Nakatsu wagasa is placed in the sun for 10 days after being coated with perilla oil. Before the coating, it also has to undergo about 60 processes, including framing and covering the frame with traditional “washi” Japanese paper.

As all of the processes have to be done by hand, it takes about two months to complete each umbrella.

The production of the umbrellas started in the Edo Period (1603-1867) in the Nakatsu Domain. In its heyday, there were about 70 producers. However, the production had gone out of existence by 2003.

In 2005, locals voluntarily set up a workshop, named “Shuka,” to revive the traditional craft products. Shuka literally means “vermillion summer.”

“I want people to smell the aroma of bamboo and the taste of washi,” said Jiro Imayoshi, 62, the project leader.

According to Imayoshi, products ranging in price between 10,000 yen (about $79.60) and 20,000 yen are popular among customers. The workshop is receiving orders from long-established Japanese-style “ryokan” inns and “ryotei” restaurants throughout Japan.

It is also producing traditional “andon” lamps and other products.