The Plastic Umbrella I Left Behind─Mishima, Shizuoka

essay, Aug. 2019


One day, it was me who decided to go to Genbe River for our date.

It was at the beginning of June, when the rainy season had just started, and when my boyfriend, who lived 900 km away from me, visited me. I looked over the sky and it was obvious that it was going to rain, but I wanted to show him my favorite place, since he came such a long way for me.

As expected, the rain began to fall as soon as we arrived at Mishima, Shizuoka, where Genbe River was.

We didn’t have an umbrella so we bought two transparent plastic umbrellas at a convenience store along the way. In Japan, many supermarkets, convenience stores, and kiosks sell plastic umbrellas, so they are very common.

On the way to Genbe River, while putting up the umbrella, somehow I remembered my childhood.

When I was little, I always used a colored, non-plastic umbrella with my name on it. Although it was a school-designated umbrella and every student at school had the same one, I still felt my umbrella belonged to me.

When I forgot it somewhere, I always hurried to pick it up.

The rain got stronger, so we waited for it to stop while eating lunch at the cafe. Trees through the window looked greener than I saw from the outside. Even though the raindrops are transparent, for me, somehow everything appears to have deeper colors on a rainy day.

After lunch, we finally arrived at Genbe River. Mishima is known as the water city, as it comes from Mt. Fuji, and Genbe River is one of the popular places where you can enjoy beautiful water and nature. In mid-summer nights, visitors come to enjoy fireflies, but now I only could see local kids playing. 

Towards a garden, I carefully walked on the stepping stones as moss on them were very slippery. We couldn’t walk together so I was just listening to the sound of rain and looking at the surface of the river.

Here, the water in the river doesn’t become dirty after the rain. I could understand why there are many fireflies here in summer, as they can only survive by the beautiful water.

Finally, the rain stopped in the garden. We closed our umbrellas and left them against the trunk of the tree and started to take pictures of beautiful hydrangea. 

The next time I remembered about the plastic umbrella was when it started to rain again on the way back. We didn’t have time to go back, so after I saw off my boyfriend at the station, I bought a plastic umbrella again at the convenience store.

It was exactly like the one I bought at the beginning of the day. Very convenient, as I could buy a plastic, anonymous umbrella anytime anywhere, but this time I somehow felt sad, or empty.

Even though many years have passed since that day, and now he is no longer my boyfriend, when the rainy season comes, I remember the plastic, transparent umbrella I left behind: its angle against the tree, the speed at which raindrops were falling down along it, and the rough texture of the tree trunk, which was very contrary to that of the umbrella.

With that moment coming up in my mind, I always think “I want to be the one that can’t be replaced.” You don’t have to be unique or talented to be such a person, as my umbrella from childhood was the same with others’ but still special for me.

All I want is to be special to someone in particular.

This is what I learned from two umbrellas─one from my childhood and the other I left behind on my date that day.

Even though I couldn’t be someone “special” or someone who “can’t be replaced” to my ex-boyfriend, when it rains, I do believe that someday I can be the one special person to someone in particular, too.

Mishima official website

Genbe River (Google Map)

written by


I Take pictures with a film camera and write essays to record my life. I work as a freelance writer as a side business. Old clothes, flowers and architecture are my favorite. I like antiques, but my favorite music is electronica.
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