The Japanese School Bag Debate

Japanese school bagsMy wife and I have been debating whether or not to buy our son, Rikuto, a traditional Japanese school bag. He won’t need one for another six years, but there’s no harm in planning ahead, right?

These bags are called randoseru, taken from the Dutch word for backpack (ransel), and are usually leather bags costing around $300.

Mami’s reasons for buying Rikuto a Japanese school bag

  1. It’s tradition;
  2. All the other children will have one;
  3. Having a traditional school bag is a school rule;
  4. It will last the full six years of elementary school.

My reasons against buying Rikuto a Japanese school bag

  1. They are heavy;
  2. They are expensive;
  3. They are ugly;
  4. Rikuto will look different from the other kids anyway, regardless of what kind of bag he has.

Using Google as an arbitrator in the Japanese school bag debate

The Google search engine is a wonderful tool for solving disputes. I tried to find something to contradict Mami’s third point about Japanese schools requiring such bags, but instead I found Kids Web Japan, a lovely looking website designed for children wanting to learn about the country.

The quiz section had all the information I could possibly want about Japanese school bags, and this quote was enough to make me regret our argument:

Once Japanese children become first graders, they all look forward to their parents buying their first bag.

Google rules in favor of buying a Japanese school bag

If Rikuto wants a Japanese school bag, and Mami wants to give him one, then I won’t stop her… even though I still think they are too heavy, ugly and expensive! 😛

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “The Japanese School Bag Debate

  1. My daughter is now 12.We bought a randoseru when she entered elementary school for the same 4 reasons as your wife mentioned.

    All the first grades have a randosreu. So my advice is to buy it. When the children become 3nensei-4nensei, most want another bag. No problem for the shool: they can have the bag they want. However, all 1nensei start with a randoseru.

    1. I’m glad to hear you say the school isn’t strict on different bags, at least later on. I couldn’t believe it would be a rule. Anyway, my son is only 3-months old o we’ve got lots of time yet. Who knows, maybe they’ll be using electronic paper by then and won’t need a bag at all!

  2. Yeah, I guess that’s the price you pay for living in Japan! Have to be like everyone else. I totally understand your reasoning Nick but considering it’s Japan, I’d have to say Mami’s reasons are equally as good! Except for the first one!

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