What is Bangasa? A thorough explanation of its history and characteristics!

What is a Banagasa ? What is the difference from a Janome umbrella and how to use it?

The Japanese umbrella is a traditional craft that can be said to be a symbol of Japanese culture.
It attracts many people with its unique design and detailed craftsmanship.
"Bangasa" is one type of Japanese umbrella. You may have heard the name often.

However, not much is known about the history, characteristics, and materials used of bangasa.

This article is aimed at those who are new to the world of Japanese umbrellas.
We will explain the charm of banasa in an easy-to-understand manner.

Please enjoy this as an introduction to Japanese umbrellas.

Types of Japanese umbrellas

"Wagasa" refers to an umbrella made of bamboo bones and Japanese paper.
There are various types and sizes depending on the purpose.

"Bangasa" is one of the umbrellas used in daily life.

  • Japanese umbrellas used in traditional Japanese culture and events
    • ◇ “Nodate Umbrella” A large umbrella used at Nodate tea parties, etc.
    • ◇ “Hikake Umbrella” A large umbrella used at shrines and temples.
    • ◇ “Odori Umbrella” Used in dance etc.
    • ◇ "Stage umbrella" used in Kabuki etc.
    • ◇ Japanese umbrellas used at specific festivals and events
  • Japanese umbrellas used in daily life
    • "Bangasa" A simple and durable umbrella
    • ◇ “Janome Umbrella” A slender and decorative umbrella
    • ◇ “Parasol”

History of banasa

The history of "Bangasa" dates back to the late 17th century.

At that time, in Osaka, sturdy paper umbrellas made from thick paper coated with perilla oil and coarse bamboo were called ``Daikokuya's deaf umbrella'' or ``Daikoku umbrella.''
The circular mark was distinctive.

At the same time, umbrellas called ``Tsuboya Umbrellas'' were being manufactured in Kyoto.

The Tsuboya umbrella is also a strong and sturdy umbrella, and is said to be the origin of the ``bangasa.''

In the middle of the Edo period,
An advertising method became popular in which merchants lent customers free umbrellas with their name written on them.

Echigoya in Nihonbashi adopted this business method on a particularly large scale.

As a result, we succeeded in attracting many customers,
Echigoya grew to become the number one kimono store in Edo.

On rainy days, umbrellas with store names and numbers written on them are everywhere in Edo.
The name "Bangasa" became established.

It seems that there were quite a few people who continued to use borrowed umbrellas without returning them.
This has the effect of spreading the store name every time it rains.
It is said that if you consider the umbrella fee as an advertising fee, it was not a waste at all.

``Bangasa'' was also called ``wholesale umbrella'' in some regions.
The origin of the word is said to come from the umbrellas that were manufactured in large quantities by umbrella wholesalers.

── Reference: Tatsuo Danjo, Professor, Graduate School of Letters, Beppu University (2022). “History and Folklore of Umbrellas 1: Formation and Development of Japanese Umbrellas”. Beppu University Institutional Repository.

Features of banasa

white umbrella

Nowadays, umbrellas are used not only to protect from the rain, but also to
The name of the store is written on the umbrella and it is used as an interior decoration or as a hanging umbrella* at restaurants and temples.

*Holding umbrella: An umbrella that is used by a superior person by holding an umbrella held by a subordinate person from behind. A large umbrella is used.

Here are some of the features of banasa.

simple design

Banasa are generally made of white or plain washi paper.
There are few decorative elements and it is not flashy, but
It features a simple design with a rustic and calm atmosphere.

The handle (handle) is thick

Bamboo is used for the handle (handle) of the umbrella.
It is thicker than other Japanese umbrellas.

Japanese paper is coated with oil

The washi paper of the umbrella is coated with perilla oil, linseed oil, tung oil, etc. so that it can be used as an umbrella.
Improved waterproofness.

Materials used for umbrellas

Japanese paper

Bangasa intended for use on rainy days are made of washi paper that satisfies the following two conditions.

  1. Generally, white Japanese paper is used for bangasa, which does not fade even if it gets wet in the rain.
    Even when using colored washi paper,
    The color of washi paper may fade when it gets wet in the rain, and the color may stick to your clothes.
    A type of Japanese paper that does not fade is used.
  2. The Japanese paper used for umbrellas has excellent durability.
    In addition to repeating the process of drying after getting wet in the rain,
    Folds frequently.
    We need the strength to be able to handle these situations.


The Japanese paper used in bangasa is coated with vegetable oils such as perilla oil, linseed oil, and tung oil.
Each of these oils has its own characteristics, and the blend of oils changes depending on the season and the Japanese umbrella craftsman.

Bamboo bone

To make the bones of the umbrella, cut thick bamboo in half lengthwise.
It starts by dividing it further into 40 to 50 pieces.
Mark the divided bamboo pieces so that you can see the order in which they are arranged.

Next, assemble the bamboo ribs so that they are next to each other.
By maintaining the order of the umbrellas, when the umbrella is closed it will form a beautiful cylinder shape, similar to the original bamboo.
This elaborate process is the secret to the beautiful shape of Japanese umbrellas.

potter's wheel

The potter's wheel is an important part made from a tree called Egonoki that moves up and down when opening and closing a Japanese umbrella.
Without a potter's wheel, an umbrella cannot be opened or closed, so it is the keystone of Japanese umbrellas.

There is only one craftsman in Gifu in Japan who makes potter's wheels by hand (as of 2023).
The potter's wheels made by this craftsman are supplied to Japanese umbrella craftsmen across the country.

handle (handle)

Bamboo is used for the handle of the umbrella.

It features a simple design that takes advantage of the natural texture of bamboo.
It is thicker than other Japanese umbrellas.

connecting thread

The connecting thread is the thread used to connect the bamboo ribs of the umbrella.

Mainly threads made of twisted cotton are used.

How to tell the difference between Banagasa and Janome umbrella

``Bangasa'' and ``Janome umbrella'' are both types of Japanese umbrellas and are used as rain umbrellas.

Many people confuse the two.
Here are some tips to easily tell the difference between Banagasa and Janome umbrella .

↓The figure below explains the parts of the "Janome Umbrella".

Japanese umbrella parts

A ``Janome umbrella'' is basically made using a bamboo frame and Japanese paper in the same way as a ``Bangasa''.
"Janome Umbrella" is characterized by its highly decorative quality. On the other hand, "Bangasa" is simple.

The simplicity of Japanese paper design

The signature design of the ``Janome Umbrella'' is the ``Janome Pattern'', in which the Japanese paper pattern spreads out in a circular pattern when the umbrella is opened.
This is called a ``Jano-me Umbrella'' because it looks like a ``Jano-eye''.

At our store, we also carry many Janome umbrellas with patterns other than Janome patterns, as well as plain Janome umbrellas.

Banasa are often plain or have very simple patterns.

(↓Left: Bangasa | Right: Janome umbrella. When you open the umbrella, a thick white circle spreads out)

Non-slip grip and thickness of the handle (handle)

Janome umbrellas have a thinner handle (handle) than banagasa.
In the case of handles made of materials other than bamboo, the part that you grip is often wrapped in rattan.

Some Janome umbrellas and Bangasas that use bamboo handles are not covered with rattan, as the bamboo knots prevent them from slipping.

Also, when comparing bangasa with bamboo handles and Janome umbrellas, the bamboo used for the handles of bangasa are often stronger and simpler.

(↓Left: Bangasa | Right: Janome umbrella)

Bamboo bones and overall solid feel

Janome umbrellas have thinner bamboo ribs than banagasa.
Depending on the region, specifications, and era, the number varies, such as 44, 46, 48, and 50.
Many of them are lighter than umbrellas, which has the advantage of making the person holding them less tiring.

A technique called ``threading'' is used to strengthen the thin bamboo bones.

The thread used for thread stitching is chosen in any color to match the color and pattern of the washi paper.
In the past, when ``Gifu Japanese umbrellas'' were mass-produced, yellow thread was used because it blended well with red and blue washi paper in order to increase production efficiency.

On the other hand, most Japanese bangasa made in Gifu today have many bamboo ribs, and because they are not threaded, there are no holes in the bamboo ribs. Because the framework is solid, the umbrella itself tends to be thicker, heavier, and wider when opened.

(↓Left: Bangasa | Right: Janome umbrella
Janome umbrellas have bamboo ribs decorated with thread)

With or without stones

Among Janome umbrellas, if the handle (handle) is not made of bamboo (such as wood), a metal fitting called ``ishizuki'' is attached to the tip of the handle (handle).
Some Janome umbrellas and Bangasas that have bamboo handles have bamboo knots at the tips instead of stones to give them strength, so there are no stones.

Ishizuki is something that is useful when standing up a Japanese umbrella.

(↓Example of stones found in Janome umbrellas.Not found in Bangasa.)

When folding a Western umbrella and standing it upright, the top should be facing down and the part you are holding should be facing up.
Japanese umbrellas are the opposite.
When folding a Japanese umbrella and standing it upright, make sure the head is at the top and the handle is at the bottom.
This is to prevent the delicate parts of the potter's wheel that holds the bamboo bones together at the top from getting wet and deteriorating due to rainwater.
The stone stick protects the tip of the handle from getting damaged when you place it on the floor with the handle facing down.

On the potter's wheel for Bangasa and Janome umbrellas,
It is covered with a waterproof material or vinyl cover called a "kappa".

(↓ View of the umbrella from above)
top of umbrella

Number of stops (=repellents)

The Janome umbrella has a two-stage ``stop'' that secures the umbrella when it is opened.

Some umbrellas are two-stage type, but most are one-stage type.

If it is a two-stage type, you can narrow the umbrella and use it.
It is useful in a variety of situations, such as when passing through crowds, when it is windy, when passing through narrow alleys, and when it is snowing to avoid accumulation.

(↓Left: Bangasa | Right: Janome umbrella
The stopper of the Janome umbrella has two stages.)

How to enjoy banasa

Feel the Japanese atmosphere

Scenery with umbrella

The sound of raindrops falling on washi paper, the scent rising from the oil applied, etc.
Japanese umbrellas, including Japanese umbrellas,
It has a unique Japanese feel and texture that only those who own it can enjoy.

If you have one umbrella,
You'll look forward to rainy days and enjoy your outings even more.

Please note that:

Banagasa is not suitable for use as a parasol.

The washi paper of the umbrella is coated with oil to make it waterproof.
If exposed to strong sunlight for a long time, the oil will deteriorate and the paper will become crispy and tear easily.

If you want to use a Japanese umbrella as a parasol,
We recommend choosing a Japanese umbrella made specifically for parasols that is not coated with oil.

  1. List of Japanese umbrellas for parasols

Create a Japanese atmosphere with wedding decorations and pre-wedding photos

Banagasa and Janome umbrella,
Try displaying it in your wedding venue or reception space.

Great for creating an atmosphere at a venue or as an item for pre-photoshoots when wearing Japanese clothing, it will really enhance the Japanese atmosphere.

Simple banagasa and colorful Janome umbrellas are popular items that are indispensable for Japanese-style weddings and pre-wedding photos.

The simple and pure appearance of banasa is perfect for creating a sacred atmosphere at a wedding.
It has a strong shape, so it looks cool when the groom holds it.
Also, since it is large, it will look great even if the bride and groom are huddled together under one umbrella.

  1. Check out the list of Japanese umbrellas recommended for weddings.

Japanese wedding ceremony and Japanese umbrella

*For information on Japanese umbrellas related to weddings, please also see this column.

  1. A traditional and modern wedding in Gifu with Japanese umbrellas and Japanese clothing
  2. Incorporate a Japanese umbrella into your wedding dress for a Japanese-style beauty

Use really good things for a long time


Many people may think, ``If your umbrella breaks, just buy a new one'' or ``It's a vinyl umbrella, so there's no problem if you lose it.''

If your purpose is just to protect yourself from the rain, it doesn't need to be a parasol.

However, once you have a high-quality umbrella, you will naturally want to use it with care.

Because we live in a modern world full of things,
I believe that owning a high-quality Japanese umbrella will lead to spiritual richness.

If you are interested in banasa, which has a simple and calm atmosphere and a profound feeling,
Please also take a look at the list of umbrellas.

  1. Check out the list of umbrellas


We have explained the history and characteristics of ``Bangasa'', a type of Japanese umbrella.

Although the banasa has a simple design, it is a masterpiece that takes the skill and heart of a craftsman into its production process.

Even on days when the rain makes you feel gloomy, using a Japanese umbrella will completely change your mood.

Please pick up a banasa and feel its charm.

If you want to buy Japanese umbrellas, go to Gifu Japanese umbrella specialty store “Wagasa CASA”

Japanese umbrella CASA |Gifu Japanese umbrella specialty store

Wagasa CASA is the only Japanese umbrella specialty store in Gifu Prefecture.
This is a select shop for Japanese umbrellas located in Gifu City.

Gifu City boasts the highest production value of Japanese umbrellas in Japan.
It is known as a city where tradition and technology are alive.

At our shop ``Wagasa CASA'', we carefully select Japanese umbrellas with a variety of designs and functionality in order to spread the appeal of Gifu Japanese umbrellas .

A fusion of traditional techniques and modern needs,
We have beautiful patterns and high quality Gifu Japanese umbrellas.
So that you can fully experience the charm of Japanese umbrellas,
While being close to each customer,
We will suggest the most suitable Japanese umbrella.

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