The Hone Karakasa belongs to my favorite class of yokai: the tsukumogami. Turns out ordinary household items will become animated by a spirit if they survive 100 years. I guess without being totally destroyed.
One of the main characters in The Changing Things started out life as a teapot. I can’t imagine a more perfect existence, but he wants more and moves on to experience a variety of incarnations.
Now our little hone-karakasa feller here is related to the more popular karakasa-kozō, but with a personality twist. According to Matthew Meyer’s excellent yokai blog, hone-karakasa is a tattered old paper umbrella with tines like fish bones, who dances through the sky on windy days and indicates the imminent arrival of lousy weather.
In Japan umbrellas are part of the natural style, and maneuvering your umbrella through a sidewalk full other umbrellas is a kind of dance or martial art. If you’re caught out in a rainstorm without one, it’s a safe bet you’ll soon find a broken one somewhere in the trash (or the bushes) that’ll get you by. My apartment in Osaka came equipped with two umbrellas on the front porch. By the time I left a month and a half later, there were 7 umbrellas on that porch and I still have no idea where they came from. Sharing an umbrella is considered one of the most romantic things you can ever do.