One of the most common sights in Japan during the summer is to see Japanese using parasols on warm, sunny days in order block the sun’s rays. Well, Japanese women, that is. But things have started to drastically change this year, with many more Japanese men to be seen using sun umbrellas. With each summer in Japan seeming hotter than that last, combined with efforts to conserve electricity, it’s not just women now who look to stay out of the sun in any way possible.
Women in Japan have used sun umbrellas for centuries now, but the main reason for that is because the culture celebrates naturally white skin. Know how most of the world mostly views Japanese women, and Asian in general, as looking so young? That’s because they usually do all they can to protect their skin from the sun. While men are now becoming more skin-conscious, the demand for parasols also comes from businessmen who need to step outside as part of their work. They don’t want to show up at that important meeting covered in sweat.
A spokesperson for the Tokyo department store chain Takashimaya commented that the demand for sun umbrellas tailored for men has increased three-fold from last summer. The Environment Ministry also says that with the use of “Cool Biz” attire, when most office workers shed their jackets and ties along with switching from long to short-sleeve shirts, an umbrella can reduce the stress from heat by roughly 20%, equal to the effect of walking in the shade cast by trees. As someone who despises hot weather, I whole-heartedly welcome this acceptance of men using umbrellas. It gives me comfort to know that I can go out with an umbrella and not feel shame; that is if I wasn’t staying indoors until the sun goes down.