Quite a number of Japanese women carry parasols, a habit that I usually find rather quaint. But on a day like today, when it’s overcast, I find it inexplicable. Especially in the case of cyclists. And yet, I saw two examples of this puzzling behaviour on my five-minute journey to the supermarket and back.

Why give up one hand on the handlebars to hold up a parasol in order to fend off non-existent rays?