THE word “parasol” is actually derived from “para” (defense against) and “sol” (sun). Parasols in Europe were originally used by stately ladies adapting Asian-style umbrellas to secure stylish, and mobile shade. Parasols existed long before modern rain umbrellas.
Officials in Japan have urged men to carry parasols to protect themselves from scorching summer temperature. The promotion of men’s parasols started in 2011 during the government’s “Cool-Biz” casual-wear campaign when Japan was severely short of electricity. According to a study by the Ministry of Environment in 2011, it was determined that walking outside without a suit jacket would reduce heat stress by 10%. Moreover taking off one’s jacket and using a parasol would bump that relief up to 20% and be on par with walking under a tree-lined street.
Parasols are normally regarded as items used by women, who are skin-conscious. However, the severe heat wave and parasol campaign encouraging men to beat back the heat by sporting parasols has gradually removed men’s resistance to use parasols.
In 2013, the presence of men with parasols began to be seen in society. “Higasa-Danshi” (higasa=parasol, danshi =man) – a term showing signs of catching on – was nominated as buzzword of the year. “I was hesitant at first because not many men were using them, but when I started using one, a pleasant world has opened up for me. I realized using a parasol is like carrying the shade with me, I feel much cooler under it,” said one of users. The number of users is increasing. In 2018, parasol sales were doubled from a year earlier, with foldable, all-weather parasols being especially popular. Many female customers are asked by their husbands to buy parasols for them.