There is something really satisfying about watching umbrella die during a rain storm. In Scotland I was perplexed by people who actually thought they were a good option for keeping dry given the high levels of wind in the country. I always chuckle a little bit when I see a discarded and broken umbrella in the trash. I am currently editing photos from a ferry I took in June and there are several of someone struggling with a dying umbrella. For some reason I can’t stop grinning.
I strongly dislike umbrellas. I only carry one if I absolutely have to and then usually only to shield my camera lens from rain drops. They get in the way. They take up space. They always make me feel like someone is about to take out my eye. Maybe it’s just that a lot of umbrella users are unable to maintain enough awareness of their surroundings and the space they and their large canopy and metal prongs occupy that they are a safety threat. Maybe it’s that a hood and rain coat do a better job with less hassle.
I generally have a raincoat with me cancelling out any need for an umbrella. The only time this was not enough was once in Japan. I was in Tokyo and it was raining very hard. Everybody there has an umbrella and was shielding themselves as best they could. I was walking along with my hood up trying to find the driest patches among the puddles. A man came up to me and offered me his umbrella. I was visibly foreign and in his mind very unprepared for the wetness. I shook my head and said I have a coat. Then he looked distraught and said you are a visitor to my country you must take my umbrella so you don’t get cold. So I took it and was grateful for his kindness.
The Japanese are like this. In Canada we have a keep to yourself type of kindness. There they will actually walk you somewhere if you ask for directions instead of vaguely pointing you along.
They also don’t do the outdoorsy hiking light weight rain jacket thing that Canadians have adopted as a national dress code. The only people I saw wearing that type of clothes were legitimately about to go on an overnight backpacking trip through the woods. The type of jacket I was wearing was not something that the average Japanese person would consider for rain wear.