If you have watched anime, are into cosplay, read manga or seen a Japanese movie with school kids in it then you would probably recognize the “Randoseru” Japanese backpacks. Randoseru comes from the Dutch word “Ransel” which means backpack.
These have been the standard backpack in Japanese culture since the 1960′s. Their origin dates back to at least to 1885 when soldiers were using a canvas backpack called “ransel” that had the same shape. It later became the norm to make these out of leather so they last a long time.
Traditionally kids will start kindergarten or 1st grade with a brand new randoseru and keep it into their middle school years. This is usually a gift from their grandparents. Before recent times, girls used red backpacks and boys used black but as the Japanese culture shifts to a more individualistic society these come in a range of colors. They make two toned backpacks, that are slightly larger and lighter for older kids… I really want a black and red one. Just saying.
These backpacks are solid and many people cherish theirs. They can literally last a lifetime.
I guess that is why they can run from $300 – $850+ !!
Yes, those are some pricey backpacks (well, not the ones I bought. But, I will get to that…).
Yes, I cringe at that price tag. Then again some women spend hundreds on purses so why not, right? Logically if you think about it most parents buy their kid a new backpack every year. Backpacks in the states can cost around $20-30. If a randoseru is expected to last at least 6 years then it’s a decent investment. The market has been set for these backpacks, their sales haven’t slowed and since they are mandatory in some schools they will continue to be a big part of a students life.
Besides… LOOK AT THEM!
So. Cute. Totally worth it… especially if my Dad was paying for them and not me! Did you read that Dad!?
When I traveled to Japan with my Dad the kids really wanted backpacks. My daughter has asked for a randoseru for a very long time but I just couldn’t justify the cost. While we were in Tokyo it was back to school shopping season so I had hoped to find some school supplies for the kids.
I knew the cost of a randoseru and didn’t even think I would consider getting one.
I don’t read enough of the Japanese language to understand what I am looking at… but, for some reason I lucked out that day. There was a huge display rack with randoseru in every color. There were even accessories. I read 35,000 yen (Over $350) and up to 95,000 yen (Over $1k!!!) for these backpacks. Then something caught my eye.
I saw two randoseru backpacks on the backside of the display case. One was in a box and one was displayed. They both had a code number of 5180 on the box and on a tag on the displayed one.
The sign below it said 2,000 yen (insert lots of Japanese words all over the sign), “2010″ and “5180″.
My brain said grab those because I think that sign says the randoseru model # 5180 from the year 2010 is marked down to 2,000 yen!!
Uh, thats like $30.
That’s like impossible.
I asked my Aunt to translate it and she couldn’t believe I was right. We asked a sales woman she she confirmed it. I had hit the randoseru japanese backpack jackpot! I love finding sales as much as I love drinking sake and eating sushi.
I may not read Japanese but I do read discounts. I really wish I had thought about taking a picture of the sign but my hands were a bit full at that point.
My Aunt said that since it’s an older style that kids may not want it or like it so that is why it was marked down so much. Those details aren’t important to my kids since there is nothing to compare them to!
Yes, usually only girls wear red randoseru but my son LOVES red. He would have probably picked out the red one anyway. They love their backpacks and I think I’ve made them paranoid about taking good care of them. I love that I found a great deal on them because, I may not have allowed the kids to use them if I paid full price . And I not-so-secretly wait for the day they decide they don’t want to use them anymore… I would totally wear one and use it as a purse!
So, what about you… Would you spend that much on a backpack that could last years?
About Leila DontSpeakWhinese
Leila, aka The Ninja, is the advocate for all things not whining. Parenting is fun when everyone stops b*tching! She is a single Mom with two amazing kids. They ninja kick through life together. Oh and she is a total jackass.