How Traditional Japanese Wagasa Umbrellas Are Made

Business Insider producer Lauren Shamo visited with craftsman Kotaro Nishibori to learn about how traditional Japanese paper umbrellas (Wagasa) are individually made. Nishibori takes the viewer through the beautiful process of crafting a red umbrella with traditional tools and materials.

Nishibori stays true to the 1,200-year-old process by using traditional methods and materials, including bamboo and washi.

Nishibori, who grew up in Japan, learned English at a young age from his father and moved to Canada for two years. When he found that he really didn’t know much about his country of origin, he moved back, met his wife. Her family owned the wagasa company Hyoshiya, and through that connection, Nishibori found his calling. He has been making these gorgeous umbrellas for over 25 years now but remains humble about his skill level.

Somehow it’s connected to me. This is something that I was looking for. And this is something really valued in Japanese cultures. In the Japanese craft world, nobody says “I’m master”. Master cannot be beat, even if you stay your whole life. Master is symbolic…I can say I am a craftsman, a professional craftsman

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.