In Japan, the clear plastic umbrella is a staple. This handy companion for the rain can be found in kiosks, drugstores, and supermarkets. Sold yearly in a whopping amount of 120-130 million units, one can tell that these umbrellas are used so often. But did you know that these clear plastic umbrellas were invented over half a century ago? White Rose, one of the few remaining Japanese makers (as China’s cheap disposable ones dominate the market) of the clear brollies invented the clear plastic umbrella. White Rose umbrellas of today are unlike the ones found in convenience stores, Japan Times explained:
The detail and craftsmanship that goes into a White Rose plastic umbrella, Sudo says, are the result of firsthand insight gathered from decades of trial and error, ever since the company produced its first plastic umbrella in the 1950s.
What cemented White Rose’s image as the go-to manufacturer for high-end plastic umbrellas, however, was when it received a request from the Imperial Household Agency in the 2010s to design an umbrella for Empress Emerita Michiko’s outdoor appointments.
Sudo attributes White Rose’s survival to the popularity of the upscale image its products. A signboard with the words “Purveyor to the Imperial Household Agency” now accompanies pop-up shops White Rose opens in department stores, and it continues to collaborate with other companies to create special-edition umbrellas.
As a family-run business, its production numbers may be limited, but, he says, every year it sells out of all its 12,000 to 13,000 umbrellas made.
image credit: White Rose Co. via Japan Times