Back in May, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike announced that the Metropolitan Government had developed a type of parasol/umbrella that could be worn on the head. This was designed to protect the volunteers who would have to be outside during the Tokyo Olympics next year from the sun.
The “wearable parasol” was widely ridiculed for well, looking a bit ridiculous. Some people even went so far as to say they were a national embarrassment, since overseas visitors coming for the Olympics would think they, and by extension all Japanese people, were weird and unfashionable. (There are quite a few folks who worry a lot about Japanese people not embarrassing themselves, both domestically and overseas.)
But over the weekend, several volunteers who were showing people where they should go and so forth at the numerous outdoor events around Tokyo were spotted wearing the head parasols. The volunteers all loved the parasols, saying they kept their heads cool because they were designed to provide air circulation unlike a hat, protected them from the sun and rain, and also left both their hands free. The parasols can be folded up compactly too.
Governor Koike was also spotted around town over the weekend, kissing hands and shaking babies  like the wily politician she is. Disappointingly, she was wearing a stylish black hat rather than a wearable parasol.
Personally, I don't think the head parasols look ridiculous at all. A lot of people in Japan use parasols, even men these days, but carrying one around is a bit of a pain. The head parasols are like modernized versions of the woven head coverings or large hats worn in the Edo period, made by weaving bamboo leaves or sedge grass. Both hand-held umbrellas and ones worn on the head were called kasa (傘). One of the type worn on the head was called a sando gasa (三度笠) or "three time (stop) umbrella". The name probably comes from hikyaku (飛脚) or foot couriers who worked the busy route between Edo (Tokyo), Osaka and Kyoto, called sando hikyaku (三度飛脚), three-stop couriers. Sando gasa were essential for these guys, since they had to have both hands free. Other types of head-umbrellas were widely worn by all classes, and were a must have item for travelers.
Getting back to the 21st century wearable parasols: with record high summer temperatures all over the world in recent years, they just might have a chance of becoming a worldwide hit. Would you wear one? I would.
There will be two main groups of volunteers at the Olympics; those recruited by the Olympic Committee, which is controlled by the national government, and those recruited by the Tokyo Metropolitan government. The “wearable parasols” are for the latter group. ↩
Parasols or umbrellas worn on the head already exist, aimed at fishing enthusiasts and the like. But the Olympics one has been much improved to be as lightweight and practical as possible, as well as have proper protection from the sun, provide airflow around the head and so on, according to the Tokyo government. The design Olympics wearable parasol is still being tweaked. ↩
Old politician joke. ↩