Working from 10 in the morning sometimes until midnight (with a little afternoon nap after lunch and a break at dinner time for good measure), Mr. Kitazawa is portrayed as The Man who Makes Umbrellas of Happiness in PingMag Make.
These days we often buy cheap umbrellas that get left behind or wrecked when strong winds come our way.
Mr. Kitazawa's umbrellas can last up to 30 years.
Here is his philosophical take on the connection between a good umbrella and a good life (as told to Takafumi Suzuki) :
“Men who carry a high-quality umbrella will move up in life. Women who carry a high-quality umbrella will be showered in happiness.” It’s the truth. The umbrella above your head, the belt that goes around your middle, and the shoes you use to trod the earth, if those three things are of high quality, you can’t go wrong. The people I’ve met in my life, pretty much all the men are of good status, and the women are happy. It’s a funny thing, though, isn’t it? Umbrellas and life are connected. It’s really very deep."
Mr Kitazawa estimates that it takes up to 5 years of learning his trade before someone can produce an umbrella than can be sold. You understand why from this illustration from the PingMag Make piece showing him sewing the fabric one stitch at a time.
The main issue is that his trade does not generate a lot of money.
What keeps him going? Thankful customers, a lesson in how to live a modest life I guess.
Not quite Tokyo for this Tokyo Thursdays #23 as the Mikawaya Umbrella Specialty Shop is located in Nagano.
Previous Tokyo Thursdays: 'Guerilla Flowerpots', Nature, Real and Fake in Tokyo concrete jungle