The Reason Asians Carry Umbrellas In The Sun

Daily Thoughts

When I’m living in Taipei, I feel like it’s completely normal to put up an umbrella when the sun is out. It’s very common in many Asian countries, such as China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. On Summer days like today, the sun can be very harsh in Auckland, and I tend to use an umbrella to stay cool and avoid getting sun burnt. Skincare is incredibly important, particularly in Eastern Asian culture, where beauty products have an emphasis on having healthy, bright skin. Our skin is the largest organ, which is why we must take good care of it, as it reflects our health.

Protecting your skin from early signs of aging. In order to avoid blemishes, wrinkles, spots and sun burns, sun protection is very important. I do feel that this is one of the reasons why some Asians look younger than their age, as many spend a lot of time taking care of their skin. Many people invest in skincare products that help maintain healthy and glowing skin.

Keeping cool under the umbrella shade. When the sun is blazing hot, an umbrella can be a great way to create some shade. It allows one to stay cool during the hot Summer months, when it seems like 2 minutes in the sun will make one start sweating. I find an umbrella helps, as my hat can only cover parts of my face, but an umbrella can cover your face and neck.

Avoid getting a sun tan. I still remember when my sister and I were in Taiwan as children, and we walked past two elderly ladies. One of them said “她們好黑!” which translates to “They’re so black!” because growing up on a farm, I tended to be playing outdoors all the time and had a very tanned complexion. There is nothing wrong with having a tan. As I grow older, I prefer to embrace my natural complexion.

The beauty standards are different. When I was living in Sydney, it was common during the Summer time to see topless men and women in bikinis at the beach, park and backyard tanning. It’s similar in NZ, where many Caucasians feel that a tanned complexion gives a warm glow that’s attractive. In East Asia, Pale skin is seen as beautiful.

It’s important to get enough Vitamin D from the sun each day, however this ranges from 15-30 minutes. If you are in the sun for several hours or travelling a long distance, then it can increase the chance of getting a sun burn. Remember to always wear sunscreen. It’s good to have a habit of wearing sunscreen everyday and protecting yourself from the sun. What are your thoughts? Do you carry an umbrella when it’s sunny? 

Nana Komatsu for Kimono hime November 2014 Shodensha Mook 

19 thoughts on “The Reason Asians Carry Umbrellas In The Sun

  1. Ohoh so related to this post haha 😂

    P. S. I think it’d be better to describe “They are so tanned! ” Black is mostly used to describe the natural skin color like African.
    Correct me if I’m wrong!!

    But anyway, as a Taiwanese who usually carries an umbrella, my friends always feel so weird about it lol.

    1. True, I suppose I did the literal translation. I think it’s one of those things that feels completely normal, especially when you’re in a city that uses umbrellas in all kinds of weather. However, when I carry an umbrella in the sun in NZ, I can definitely feel that there are more people who don’t mind soaking in the sun.

  2. Hi Katie,
    I also put up an umbrella here in Bogotá (I have moved from Spain to Colombia), very often, especially when the sun is very harsh. Especially because Bogotá is a city high in the mountaines (over 2600 meters). It’s completely normal here and gives instant relieve and also avoids a serious headache. Nevertheless, I think I’m probably the only European living here, that does this… :D Nice to read you again, I was away for a while.. Xxx Rosa

  3. Yes, I agree that sun protection is very important. Now that I’ve moved from NZ to the UK. The sun isn’t as strong here, but I still wear sun block everyday (even if I’m not leaving the house) out of habit. I’m actually trying to get into the habit of reapplying sunblock during the day. As I sit next to a window at work, I want that shield from the damaging rays of the sun! Do you find people look at you in NZ when you have an umbrella out? I remember when I used to live in NZ, non Asian people will stare in confusion.

    1. That’s great to hear, it’s so important to wear sunscreen every, no matter what the weather is! I do get occasional stares, as most people are not used to seeing umbrellas during summer time. However, I’ve noticed there are more Asians and some Kiwis using umbrellas now on sunny days in the city.

    1. Aw, you own it though! I think it’s just a matter of many people not seeing it often that makes them feel that it’s strange. I also think it’s because there is quite a culture of wanting to be tanned and bronzed in Western culture, generally speaking, eg in the beauty industry. There are more skin products emphasizing a tan, whereas in countries like Taiwan, there are far more products emphasizing a pale complexion and it would be very rare to see an advertisement for tanned skin in Taiwan.

  4. Don’t worry this isn’t just reserved to Asia, I grew up in Jamaica and this is also a widespread common there. I would say the reasons you’ve put forward are also applicable to the people of the island.

  5. I only came to appreciate umbrellas after moving to Taiwan. Even my bright yellow non-UV protecting umbrella provides enough shade to lower the temperature by a few degrees!

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