Umbrella holders in Japan

Just in from my Okinawan informant:

Another interesting random fact about bikes in japan, it’s against the law to put your umbrella up while on your bike and it was controversial whether to ban umbrella holders (さすべえ or sasubee) as well. The thing is, umbrella holders are considered to be for old ladies (obasan) in tokyo, but in Osaka it’s difficult to find a woman without one- even young girls in their 20s!!!

They’re dangerous with the wind, umbrellas first of all, people are pretty determined to ride their bikes even in typhoons so they first banned using umbrellas, then i guess someone argued that having both hands on the bike doesnt really make it completely safe, they do fly away, like mary poppins I guess. And people try to ride their bikes in such crowded places, you know how it hurts when you get poked in the eye by one!

Check out more details and close up pictures of how these things work here (in Japanese).


3 responses to “Umbrella holders in Japan

  1. what an innovation. but why a law against them?

  2. Yeah, a law against them is wrong and will promote car use over bicycle use. I have one on my bike (in Canada) and the wind does not “blow you away like Mary Poppins”. Trust me. It does not even affect your ability to ride, I found, except for sight, which is only slightly hampered. My umbrella holder adjusts so you can raise it or lower it as neccessary. It has been a life saver and the envy of other cyclists. I think your article was written not by someone who actually uses one of these things regularly. I can go 30km on with it on, for goodness sakes! It has kept me dry and happy! Cars should be illegal before bike umbrella holders. They are responsible for much more harm and death, for essentially the same purpose, to keep one comfortable while travelling.

    • Thanks for the comments. It’s true that I’ve never used one but I have ridden with an umbrella in my hand while riding in Amsterdam (the umbrella broke and it was hard to manage, I found). My girlfriend is Japanese though so she gave me some input and insight into how these devices are used in Japan. Glad to hear it’s easier than it looks though!

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