Tokyoites are generally very conscientious about having their umbrellas on them if there’s any chance of rain, which makes you feel all the sillier (not to mention very wet) if you find yourself caught in a storm without one. A new LINE app called ‘iKasa’ (kasa being the Japanese word for umbrella) is on a mission to mitigate this problem with a pretty genius idea: an ‘umbrella-sharing’ system.
Here’s how it works:
- LINE users add the ‘iKasa’ (アイカサ）account as a friend
- Click ‘Talk’ and then click on the ‘Rent an Umbrella’ button
- At that point, a map appears showing all the ‘iKasa’ spots closest to your current location
- You can tap on a spot close to you and check if the spot is open right now and if they have any free umbrellas
- When you get to the spot, pick the umbrella of your choice and scan the QR code on its handle to check it out
- When you return it later, scan the QR code at the return stand
The rental umbrellas come at a very reasonable ¥70 per day (paid via a registered credit card). If you forget to return your umbrella, you’ll be changed for extra days, but only up to ¥420 (at which point the umbrella’s basically yours to keep). You can also check out and return umbrellas as many times as you want in one day for just the one-time ¥70 fee.
The program only opened on November 1 of this year, but in its first month alone saw over 1,000 people using it. 50 spots are now open in Shibuya with about 40 umbrellas per spot – not quite enough yet to cover all of Tokyo’s 16 million population. But let’s hope its early popularity means the program will keep expanding until we never have to carry around those cumbersome umbrellas again.
For more information, check iKasa's Facebook page here.