Choose from 2,000 Varieties
At An Umbrella Specialty Shop, Waterfront
Written by: Jaru（ジャル）
Umbrellas are popular among international visitors in Japan.
Japanese umbrellas are practical yet fashionable and have a wide range of designs and functionalities. In particular, the variety of folding umbrellas offered in Japan is the largest by far in the world. They are popular for its compactness and an easy-to-carry design.
Located in Shinsaibashi, Osaka, is Waterfront, one of the world’s largest umbrella specialty stores. With some 2,000 varieties of umbrellas sold, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you—or your family and friends back home. I’m going to find the perfect one for me today!
Hi! I’m Jaru from Mongolia.
I’m a student, working on a doctorate degree in Education at a university in Kyoto. I’ve lived in Japan for seven years. Today, I’m super excited to shop for a perfect umbrella at Japan’s top umbrella shop!
A World-Class Umbrella Specialty Shop
Waterfront SHINSAIBASHI/OSAKA is located about 2-minute walk from Osaka Metro’s Shinsaibashi Station. The sight of 10,000 umbrellas in a large floor space is simply astounding. It almost feels like a museum.
I was impressed with the large selection of umbrellas at Waterfront—apparently, they offer some 2,000 varieties including 1,400 different kinds of folding umbrellas.
Image courtesy of Shu’s Selection Co., Ltd.
Ota-san welcomed us at the store. She works in Sales and PR at Shu’s Selection Co., Ltd. that operates Waterfront.
She was there to help me navigate the store today. Yoroshiku onegai-shimasu, Ota-san!
Look at the mini umbrella Ota-san picked up. It’s so cute! This product comes in seven colors—like the rainbow colors which is Waterfront’s brand color☆ Some purchase these colorful mini umbrellas to take to concerts; exhibiting their favorite star’s brand color shows their support for the star. Umbrellas can be used in many ways♪
Folding Umbrellas as An Answer to Sustainability
The tour of the store began in the folding umbrella section.
In 2019, Waterfront launched a project to facilitate the use of folding umbrellas as part of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) initiative. Their hope is that it’ll be the norm for people to carry folding umbrellas instead of disposable plastic umbrellas that are widely used in Japan today.
Ota-san’s top recommendation from numerous lines of products is the Pocket Flat (NEW Ultralight Carbon.)
With a weight of merely 98 grams—less than the weight of one onigiri rice ball—NEW Ultralight Carbon is super thin and light, making it perfectly portable. They fit in the little space you have in your bag or even in your pocket.
The ribs (spokes) of Pocket Flat umbrellas are flexible because the same carbon materials that make fishing poles are partially used. Light umbrellas often break easily, but Pocket Flat umbrellas are durable and long-lasting, thanks to modern technology.
The design of patented Pocket Flat umbrellas varies—from designs inspired by traditional Japanese arts to Marvel and Star Wars character designs—and features diverse colors. With such wide variety, I’m sure anyone can find their favorite. It’d make a great souvenir that packs light!
GO!GO!UMBREALLA series are sold for only 550 yen (tax excluded,) about the price of a disposable plastic umbrella. Offered in one color with no straps, the design is simple—a key to making the low price possible—yet this compact umbrella has UV protection and can be used to block rain or the sun. Practical and affordable, this is another good candidate for a souvenir, I’d say!
Amongst the numerous umbrellas sold, I also found a children’s book. Yes, a book at an umbrella shop. This particular book explains in simple terms Waterfront’s SDG initiative to protect sea creatures by reducing the disposal of plastic umbrellas. Kids love this pop-up book full of colorful sea creatures.
The concept of folding is also applied to the design of the store itself. Waterfront’s original store fixtures (shelves, display cases) are movable and transformable—the innovative shelves fold up into simple boxes and expand back out when needed. The picture below shows the shelves when they’re all collapsed. Fascinating!
Image courtesy of Shu’s Selection Co., Ltd.
High-Tech & Stylish
Let’s go through their collection of umbrellas that utilize high technology and those that feature interesting designs. We have a lot to show off♪
First up are the Water Barrier umbrellas that use a superhydrophobic material. Lotus leaf is the inspiration for this fiber material on which rain drops simply roll off like little balls. When the water repellency weakens, you can revive it by giving it some heat using an iron or a hair dryer. Ota-san showed us how it works using a water spray.
You can have a comfortable summer with this silver umbrella that cuts UV by 99%. Named Banker’s Parasol (I love the naming,) this umbrella was created to provide cool and comfort even on hot summer days for bankers who are often on the road for their job.
This section features umbrellas made in Japan.
Umbrellas made in Japan use only high-quality materials and each umbrella is made by hand. Price is higher—around 10,000 yen—but that doesn’t stop many international visitors from purchasing one to take home with them.
Here’re adorable vegetable-themed parasols. I’m holding a carrot-inspired umbrella.
If you’re looking for something with a traditional Japanese style, go for an umbrella with many ribs. The high number of ribs makes a beautiful shape and provides stability against winds.
With so many colors offered, I felt like a kid in a candy store♪
This unique umbrella was inspired by the arches on the Meganebashi Bridge (Spectacles Bridge) in Nagasaki City.
I can go on but, unfortunately, I can’t possibly show you all the umbrellas Waterfront Shinsaibashi has to offer.
I guess you’re going to have to visit the store yourself!
Selecting “the One”
I’d never spent so much time looking at umbrellas. In Mongolia where I come from, we don’t use umbrellas much because it doesn’t rain a lot. It was a nice experience for me to see the variety of designs and learn about the technologies used in making these umbrellas.
It’s time to find my perfect umbrella♪ I’m going to take an advantage of what Waterfront has to offer and find an umbrella with high functionality and a cute design that’s not sold elsewhere! I prefer calm colors and classy yet cute designs♡ Ota-san helped me narrow down the candidates.
I checked the texture of the fabric and looked in the mirror how the umbrella looks on me (you can see it from above!)…
After much debate, I chose…
The unique shape of the tip and the shade of purple were the deciding factors for me.
I also picked up an umbrella case that holds a wet umbrella and keeps everything else dry. I was happy with my selections.
Staff at Waterfront are knowledgeable and a great help in choosing the best umbrella for each customer. They will show you how to fold the umbrella, too. A bonus for international travelers is that they speak English regularly and some are well-versed in Korean as well.
Once you’ve found your souvenir/gift, choose from Waterfront’s cute gift packaging options.
I found my favorite umbrella today. Thank you, Ota-san!
※Information provided in this article is current as of the time of interviewing. Product lineup and availability may change depending on the time of visit.
[Access] About 2 mins walk from Exit 5 at Shinsaibashi Station.
[Hours] 11:00am - 8:00pm
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