The Japanese Randoseru, the Ultimate Schooler’s Backpack

The Value of School for the Japanese Society

Education in Japan is highly priced. According to the current census, almost 100% of the Japanese are literate. This means that a majority of the population has received compulsory education or nine years of education. This allows them to be able to read, write, do basic mathematics, and the like.

The Japanese people spend six years in grade school and three years in Junior High. They then spend three more years in high school. They learn about their culture and history on top of all compulsory subjects like Sciences, Maths, and more.


By ajari from Japan [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


The Japanese government supports the capabilities of their students and encourages them to discover new knowledge. One of the main objectives of Japanese schools is to encourage their children to hone their skills in science and technology. They are trained to help in the development of their society for the benefit of future generations of Japanese.

On the other hand, it is also important for the Japanese to teach their children about their culture and their customs. It is important for them to learn proper etiquette and manners. It is also important for them to learn the value of their history, their traditions, and language.

For the Japanese, the youth will be the ones who will continue the growth of their society and government. It is only apt that experts and adults take effort in helping their younger generations learn. They are encouraged not only to learn the current systems but to find ways of improving them further. Education, for the Japanese, is the key.

Different School Fashion Trends in Japan

Despite how much the older generations try to become conservative about education, it is unavoidable for the younger generations to create their own little marks in the world. They begin by expressing themselves through their own persons, or their fashion. This is why there are a number of trends that have become popular for students through the decades.

Sailor Uniforms

The common design of Japanese school uniforms would be European-style naval attire. This is commonly known as the sailor Fuku or sailor outfit in English. Usually, colored navy blue, black, or dark blue, these uniforms are fully adorned with piped sleeves and pleated skirts.

It is also common to see uniforms that sport square shaped and lengthened collars. Also, these kinds of uniforms have scarfs of contrasting color to the uniform itself. For instance, if the uniform set is dark, the scarves are white. If the uniform is white, the scarf is colored dark. During the winter season, this clothing is made of thicker fabrics and longer sleeves. On the other hand, uniforms during the summer season are made of thinner material and shorter sleeves.

In Japanese history, this change in style of school clothing was a sign that the Japanese society is experiencing a growing modern culture. Since the naval uniform is based on trending outfits for Western children at the time, the adaptation of the sailor uniform in Japanese schools was a sign that they are now more open to influences of the western culture.

Hair Accessories Japan

The trend in hairstyles and accessories is probably the most versatile out of all. It is the type of trend that changes at a very rapid speed. For instance, full bangs would be trendy a certain time and the next month it is the side bangs that would be trendy. Hair tied in pigtails used to be trendy, but nowadays a ponytail is much more preferred.

On the other hand, hairstyles and hair accessories are the most common ways for students in Japan to express themselves. This is because of the idea that wearing uniforms can feel restrictive, the hair is the only part of their daily get up where they can express their uniqueness and individuality.

Japanese School Shoes – uwabaki

School shoes in Japan is also one of a kind, it is mandatory for students to wear outdoor shoes and indoor shoes. Supplied by the school, the students are required to wear a slipper-like pair whenever they enter the campus. This pair of shoes is called uwabaki. Once they have worn their uwabaki, they should place their outdoor shoes in a special locker.

These are specialized shoes that provide comfort to the students while inside the campus. The design f the slipper for the boys is different from that given to girls. The student’s age or grade level is also determined by the uwabaki. Although uwabakis are generally designed in white, there are usually markers or stripes that are color coordinated to represent a certain age group.

Furthermore, these shoes are given to students to ensure that they will maintain cleanliness inside the school. Most schools are designed with wooden flooring, there are classrooms which are designed with tatami mats. If all the students will wear their outdoor shoes, the floor finish will surely not last long.

What is the Japanese Randoseru Backpack?

Other than the uniforms, the hairstyles, the hair accessories and the school shoes, there are other trends that are popular in Japanese schools. One of this would be the use of the randoseru. This randoseru is a leather backpack which is popular for young children. They use it to store important items that they use in school.

What makes the randoseru special is the fact that it is made of a very firm material. It is tightly stitched at the sides and it almost squares in shape. This kind of back pack is traditionally given to young children as a gift in their first year of school. As long as the bag is still well-kept and usable, they will use the same bag until they finish elementary school. Once they reach junior high school, they start using a different kind of bag like a satchel.

By MIKI Yoshihito (SAKURAKO - After school.) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Randoseru Japanese Meaning

The word randoseru has been derived from the Dutch word ransel which literally means back pack. It is written as (ランドセル) in Hiragana and this word has no kanji equivalent.

History of the Randoseru

It was only in the Edo period when the Japanese started to become more accepting of western influences. It is more common to see the Japanese creating their own versions of items that they see from their foreign counterparts. At this time, people from different parts of the world are still starting to discover different means of carrying items within their persons.

The Netherlands have invented a way for soldiers to carry important items in their backs without creating such a strain or difficulty. They have invented a new kind of rucksack, which they called as ransel. This new “technology” was so fascinating that it immediately caught the attention of many cultures.

At this time as well, the Japanese government started encouraging their youth to become more independent. They must come to school at their own feet and carry their own things. The discovery of the ransel proved to be very useful. In the late 1800s, the crown prince has gifted a rucksack that resembled the ransel very closely.

For a bag that the students can use for almost a decade, the randoseru proved to be a worthy purchase. Since then it became a trend however since it is made of leather, not all people could afford it until the economy of the Japanese rose post World War II.

The design of the Randoseru Japanese School Backpack

There is a typical design for a traditional randoseru. Usually, the size of this is about 30 cm in height and 23 cm wide. It is designed with a number of functions. It has a firm outer covering that covers up all the zippers that open the bag. At the sides are small pockets for items that must be easily reached. There are pockets for pens, rulers and other school items. Bigger storages are for books and other paper files while smaller storages are for change of clothes or packed lunch.

Some bags are designed with latches or handles that could carry lunch bags and umbrellas. The randoseru is designed to be efficient and help the child become organized. There is places in Japan that mandate pedestrian friendly design. These bags feature traffic safety by being covered with yellow plastic covers for visibility. This is to ensure the safety of kids that travel far distances from their homes to their schools.

By ganeshaisis from Berlin, USA (School Girl | Tokyo, Japan) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In some schools in Japan, especially private schools, they are very particular with the kind and color of the bag. This is to ensure uniformity and avoid causes of jealousy and envy among the students. They usually mandate the brand as well, to really make the randoseru uniform throughout their school’s population.

However, since this can prove to be restrictive and expensive, some schools would rather be particular with color. Traditionally, boys should have black colored randoseru and girls should have red colored backpacks.

Japanese Leather Backpack (Randoseru)

The common design of the randoseru is to use animal leather. This ensures the durability and firmness of the material. However, traditional randoseru bags start to weigh more than a kilogram. This makes it quite heavy for small children. Since then the search for lighter material was put in place. Nowadays, materials used for randoseru are synthetic leather. These are much lighter but still, gives that durability and firmness.

Different kinds of Japanese Randoseru Backpack – School bags to have

It is the conservative schools that mandate the use of specific models of the randoseru. However, since schools nowadays have become less restrictive, manufacturers have taken the opportunity to create their own variations.

There are bags that are made of different colors like pink, blue, brown, and the like. There are also others that are designed with ribbons, flowers, and embroidery. There are some bags that are designed with popular characters. Some sports apparel companies like Nike and Puma have even developed their own versions of the randoseru.

Interestingly, the randoseru has become a popular fashion item and there are more adult versions of the bag being made. For many Japanese people, this is quite unusual because they are strongly connected to their childhood. However, the trend has started to become quite popular outside of Japan. The selling point of these bags is that they are made from different, more expensive materials. Some are made with crocodile skin, snake skin, cow hides, and the like. The rarer the material, the more expensive these become.

Where to buy Japanese School Randoseru

One place that sells randoseru for adults would be Akujidou. Since the designs and materials of these bags are different and they are made for fashion rather than function, the prices of these products do tend to soar high. The average price of adult randoseru can range between 110,000 Japanese yen to about 150,000 Japanese yen.

By Simon Desmarais (DSC_4257) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

For those who are living outside of Japan but want to get a hold of their own randoseru, there are online stores that sell these products. Online shopping has become quite popular recently because of the improvement in internet security. Companies like eBay and Amazon are popular sellers of the randoseru. They ensure safe shipping and avoidance of damages on the firmness of the item is ensured as well. With just one click, the order is sure to be received in a few weeks’ time.

Japanese School Bag Randoseru Price

A typical randoseru would cost about 36,000 Japanese yen, for a traditional leather bag. For a bag, this is very expensive and costly. However, even if the price is quite high the customers still tend to buy the pricier kinds. This is because of the fact that the student is expected to carry the same bag for six years. The pricier models tend to last longer because of their prime quality.

On the other hand, since synthetic materials have become in demand due to its lightness more and more customers prefer buying these products as well. The good thing is that not only would the bag be lightweight, these items are also cheaper ranging from 25,000 yen to 30,000 yen.