Spring in Japan is the start of the school year.
You will see many kids walking with a randoseru – a firm, heavy-looking backpack used mainly by elementary (primary) school children.
Many people may wonder if it’s heavy and why elementary school children need a different kind of bag?
The randoseru costs 30,000 – 100,000 yen!
The randoseru doesn’t come cheap! Apparently each bag is handmade and depending on the brand and design, you might have to shell out 30,000 – 100,000 yen (about 300-1,000 USD). These bags are meant to last for six years!
So what is the Randoseru?
The origin of the Randoseru goes back to the Edo period, a time when Japan was majorly influenced by the West. The Netherland-style rucksack called ransel was originally used by soldiers and the randoseru is considered to be a version of the ransel. So the word itself originates from Dutch.
The randoseru is usually heavier than a regular backpack.
The weight of a randoseru ranges from 1200-1500 g compared to a normal nylon or polyester backpack which is only around 700 g.
Once you put the books in, the bags weigh much more.
Let’s see all that goes into the randoseru!
Notebooks, textbooks probably add a weight of 1-2 kg, lunchboxes and umbrellas are usually carried separately.
Although the more you fill the bag, the more balanced it feels apparently.
Good for posture?
The dimensions of a randoseru render it to have a positive effect on posture. One of the key design features is the soft cushioning for the back which reduces the load on the spine as well as adjustable straps that adjust to match the child’s constitution.
Since it comes up to the waist, it is easy to move, sit and even lean back without feeling uncomfortable.
In contrast to a normal backpack, a randoseru does not weigh the child down as the weight is centered.
The randoseru has a wide opening and stiff casing makes it easy to access notebooks that do no wrinkle, crease or fold.
Other than that, you can attach safety reflectors, mobile phones, as well as jazz up your randoseru with various charms or trinkets of your child’s favorite characters. You can buy clear plastic covers that slip over the bags to keep out rain and to protect the bags from scratches.
One of the major reasons that Japanese children have to carry the randoseru
Unlike most Western countries where parents drop their kids to school in a car or children take the school bus, most Japanese children walk to their school or take a train on their own. Having a good bag that balances the weight of all the things they need for school as well as doesn’t negatively affect their posture is important.
And above all, the randoseru has a symbolic and emotional value for young Japanese as it represents the start of a new phase in life.