New Kyoto-style umbrellas
Wagasa (Japanese umbrella) is made with waterproofed paper and bamboo for the shaft and ribs. The following is an interview with Mr. Nishibori, who is the fifth-generation master of Hiyoshiya, the sole wagasa producer in Kyoto.
1. What is Kyo-wagasa?
There is no distinct structural difference from the ordinary umbrella. But we receive many orders from tea masters, so naturally, we specialize in designs of subtle taste and elegant simplicity (wabi and sabi).
2. Wagasa lamps
Ordinary consumers hardly ever use wagasa because it doesn’t suit today’s lifestyle in functionality and design. When I was drying wagasa under the sun during manufacturing, I saw a beautiful light coming through the paper and ribs. I realized this could be used in lampshades that would harmonize well with contemporary decor. I thought the collapsible feature of umbrellas could be used to create something completely new.
3. Kyoto traditions
At overseas exhibitions, when people hear that our products are from Kyoto, they say there must be a long tradition behind them. But I’ve only been in this business for about 10 years. People wonder how I came up with new products in such a short time. It’s the result of accumulated tradition and culture. It’s not too difficult to add two or three more years to a thousand-year foundation.