While kimonos are highly regarded as exquisite handcrafted garments, the traditional robes are no longer worn daily by the majority of men and women in Japan. Those that do remain in the closets of ordinary households are often kimonos passed down for generations, or ones that were only worn on a few occasions and have since been tucked away. It's a shame to keep such historical treasures hidden in the dark depths of drawers or boxes, which is why Japanese brand Akizakura is giving people the chance to turn vintage kimonos they'll never wear again into beautifully crafted sun umbrellas.

Though some might find it almost cruel to take apart an obviously valuable garment, the act of remaking worn-out kimonos into practical items has been around since the Edo Period. Back then, old kimonos would be transformed into whatever was needed, whether it was rags, thongs for sandals, or even diapers. By turning kimonos into sun umbrellas, Akizakura is taking that same mentality of reusing items instead of simply throwing them away into action.

Each umbrella is made by a craftsman, and can be customized to look and function exactly the way customers wish it to. Customers can specify which parts of the kimono will be used for the umbrella, and they can also choose what type of material will be used for the frame. There are additional options, too, like making the umbrella water and oil repellent and complete with UV protection. Those who don't have an old kimono but want a gorgeous sun umbrella are welcome to make one as well, as Akizakura offers a selection of vintage kimonos to choose from.

It takes about a month to make one umbrella, and prices start at 30,000 yen (USD$270). For more information, head over to Akizakura's Facebook page!

By - grape Japan editorial staff.