Japanese Umbrellas Light Up Gunma Pref. Hot Spring Town; Illuminations Were Chosen To Complement Resort’s Retro Look

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Colorful wagasa, traditional Japanese umbrellas, are illuminated at Toji Hiroba square in Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, on Friday.

KUSATSU, Gunma — A special event has been going on since Friday in the hot spring town of Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture. For the next few weeks, illuminated, colorful wagasa — traditional Japanese umbrellas – will brighten up the nights in this resort spot.

The wagasa festival was launched by the Kusatsu Onsen Tourism Association to attract more tourists, even during the off-season which follows the Golden Week holidays.

The association cast a spotlight on wagasa as decorations befitting Kusatsu’s retro streetscape, especially during the upcoming rainy season. Not far from Yubatake – the “field of hot water” which helps supply the town’s baths – in Toji Hiroba square, forty-eight Japanese umbrellas of various colors, including red, purple and green, are lit up in lines on the ground or atop wooden fences at, creating a magical atmosphere.

“They give off a Japanese feeling. It’s very beautiful,” said Eriko Kinoshita, 71, from Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture.

The event lasts through June 2. The umbrellas are lit up in the evening from 5-11 p.m.

The umbrellas will remain in place outside of these times, except when the weather is too rough to permit it.