Strongly Built for The Wettest City in Japan, yet Beautifully Designed for Those Kimono Clad in Kanazawa who Appreciate High Aesthetics.
Fabric canopies considered the first umbrellas were brought to Japan via Baekje: one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea during the Asuka period (538-710). They were not the umbrellas designed to protect people against rain, but rather as parasols to avoid sunlight. Wagasa, literally a Japanese umbrella made of bamboo and oil-paper, was a sacred instrument in Buddhist ceremony early in Japanese history. The techniques in paper production, along with bamboo work, were at long last advancing during the Heian period (794-1185). After pigments and wax began to be applied to the surface of the paper for additional water resistance in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), wagasa finally spread among the ordinary people. It’s a well-known fact that unemployed samurai crafted those umbrellas as a job, and some employed ones did it to supplement their income during the Edo period (1603-1868). Kanazawa Wagasa also developed during the period, and at one time there were 118 shops in Kanazawa from the Meiji (1868-1912) to Showa periods (1926-1989), its golden age. However, with the popularity of fancy Western umbrellas from 1955 onward, oil-paper umbrellas have seen their market share diminish. Still, Kanazawa Wagasa is loved not only by local people, but also by those from around the world who appreciate Japanese traditional craft. Kanazawa is well known as one of the wettest cities in Japan, and also a city of kimono lovers. For over a thousand years, our beautiful outfits have been fascinating people, and Japanese umbrellas are designed to make those kimono-clad people even more beautiful.
A One Year Waiting Period for Orders as Umbrellas are Completely Handmade at the Sole Workshop in Kanazawa.
As the popularity of western umbrellas rose while traditional umbrellas became less practical, Matsuda Wagasa has become the sole shop for handmade Kanazawa Wagasa. The third owner of the shop, Shigeki Matsuda who has succeeded the business from his father as of two years ago, is absorbed in his work at the quiet atelier. As a matter of fact, his umbrellas are already famed among international connoisseurs, from ambassadors, to Hollywood celebrities and kabuki actors. He received an order of a thousand wagasa from a buyer in New York. Of course, it’s impossible to finish such a large amount of handmade umbrellas by himself in a short period of time. Each wagasa goes through between 30 to 100 processes to reach completion. Making the frame: the shaft, ribs, and stretchers are first assembled from bamboo. Wagasa umbrellas have 20-50 more ribs than Western umbrella does as you see. After leaving the frame aside for a month, the paper canopy can finally be hand-glued as individual panels to the ribs. Utilizing thick rice paper is a unique feature of Kanazawa Wagasa. Both the oil and lacquer used on the canopy as water-repellents need time to dry after the processes. Finishing the stretchers with decorative and colorful cross stitch is for pleasing to the eye. And guess what else - Mr. Matsuda said that it can take more than three months to make just one wagasa. Now you can understand why there is such a long wait for orders to be completed. But it’s worth to wait if you want one. If it’s maintained very well, you can keep using your wagasa for about five decades.
Hop Straight to The Shop to Experience Kimono Wearing with A Wagasa for Location or Studio Photography!
Kimono Rental Shop Kokoyui keeps some of Kanazawa’s traditional umbrellas made by the previous owner of Matsuda Wagasa Shop; however, the use of those pricy umbrellas is limited to special occasions at the shop, such as for a bridal rentals. The rental shop has some other wagasa as well, for those who book a photography session on location (optional). Remember that we have many historical places here in Kanazawa, hence we advocate just strolling down the street in kimono. We know however that it’s not comfortable for all people to spend time in those tight garments. For this reason, Kokoyui suggests that you wear a kimono just for a short photo session at their studio if you don’t want to go out. It’s 2000 yen (per ten minutes; optional) for in-shop-studio photography, and renting a normal wagasa is included in the price. Having a cultural experience is precious when you travel abroad. If you cannot afford a Kanazawa Wagasa, then just hop straight to this rental shop to see the elegant taste of our traditional fashion!
Kimono Rental Kokoyui
Closed Tuesday and irregularly on other days.
MENU *See page 10 as well!
• Kimono Rental for Women: ¥5000~
• Location Photography: ¥13800 (per hr. )
• Studio Photography: ¥2000 (per 10-min session)