Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A deluge of umbrellas
Briggs of London, who make exquisite umbrellas, don't sell many in Tokyo. When it starts raining and we don't happen to have an umbrella with us, we duck into the nearest convenience store and pick up one of those aluminum-frame clear plastic umbrellas for 170 yen, the price of a MacDonald's hamburger.

This is a purchase of the moment, nothing to be treasured. The manufacturers of these umbrellas gear up for the rainy season each year because they know from experience that nobody has managed to hang onto last season's cheap plastic umbrella.

But really, these cheap umbrellas are a plague. People on the train hang their new cheap umbrella on the nearest protuberance and then forget about it. When the train comes to the end of the line, the conductor announces Kasa! Kasa! Kasa! (Umbrella! Umbrella! Umbrella!) because when a passenger forgets theirs, the conductor  must collect it and turn it in to Lost and Found, where the government requires it to be kept, properly tagged, for a year.

- Perry Arguable

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