Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Ai-ai Gasa : Japanese Love Umbrellas!

Photo: Juan Salmoral on Flickr

Ai-ai Gasa : Japanese Love Umbrellas!


The phrase "Ai Ai gasa" seems really an interesting usage related to the rainy days and the umbrella. There are some rain phrases and words that have the word 'kasa' or 'gasa' which all are associated with our day to day life.  'Kasa' or the umbrella is an inevitable thing that we take with us on a rainy or a sunny day. And the love phrase 'ai ai gasa' and other words similar to that will be surely useful.


Ai Ai gasa

Photo : tokyoform on Flickr
If two people share an umbrella, it is called the “Ai-Ai gasa”. ‘Ai’ means ‘love’ and ‘gasa’ is the variation of the word ‘Kasa’ in Japanese with the meaning ‘Umbrella’. And literally “Ai-Ai gasa” means “Love-Love umbrella”. The Japanese youngsters use the symbol of an umbrella with the name of the boy and girl on its both sides as a symbol of love. It’s similar to the heart symbol representing love. Two people, especially a man and a woman, sharing an umbrella in rain is considered as a symbol of romance in Japan.


Photo : Atsuhiko Takagi on Flickr
Wagasa are the traditional Japanese style umbrellas. They are made of washi paper or silk clothes with straight wooden ribs and wooden handle. Bamboo is often used in making these umbrellas. We can now see this kind of umbrella in Japanese traditional events, wedding ceremonies and festivals where people usually wear Kimono and Yukata. Different colours and shapes of traditional umbrellas could be seen. They are the symbol of Japan and these are really costly umbrellas with a royal appearance.

Ori-tatami gasa


Usually Japanese use long umbrellas and it is difficult to carry them always. But there are small umbrellas that can be folded 2 or 3 times and could be kept inside the bag. Even light weight umbrellas are now available. It is convenient to carry these umbrellas with you if it is not sure that it may rain or not. Keeping such a small umbrella with you will be always helpful anytime, during the rain or hot. Such kind of small foldable umbrellas are known as the Ori-tatami gasa.


Most people have a spare umbrella at their office or workplace. Similarly, students might have a spare one at the school. So that if it rains without any warning in the middle of the day, they can use it while returning home. This is called the Oki-gasa which is the spare umbrella. In most seasons, sometimes it begins to rain in Japan at the middle of the day eventhough the sky is clear from the morning. Sometimes, the weather forecast may be unnoted due to the clear weather of morning or the days before. Or the weather might not have been predicted correctly as the rain comes without any former warnings at all. Oki gasa is a very helpful item in such situations.



We can see umbrella stands before the entrance of the shops, houses, etc. When it is raining, the wet umbrella inside such places makes the floor wet and slippery. Also, its difficult to carry the umbrella with us while shopping and if it is wet too, we couldn’t keep it at all. During such situations, such umbrella stands are very useful and convenient. They are known as the 'Kasa-tate'. But in crowded places, it’s a little scary to put our umbrella outside, as it may be stolen or miscarried by some others. Most of the shops have the means to carry them inside in plastic covers that might be kept near these umbrella stands. So that if we want our umbrella to be with us, we can make use of it. Some crowded places where umbrella couldn’t be carried inside, have locking facility too if we put our umbrella outside in the Kasa-tate.

Thus the daily encountered things with the usage involving ‘kasa /gasa’ are an interesting addition to our Japanese vocabulary.