Randoseru are the large, sturdy backpacks used by Japanese elementary school children to carry books and supplies while they commute to school. Maybe you’ve noticed them accompanying school kids depicted in anime or manga. Or maybe you’ve seen them on the backs of Japanese students as they commute to school in towns and cities across the country. These stiff leather backpacks are a traditional part of an elementary school kid’s ensemble in Japan.
The name “randoseru” is adapted from the Dutch word “ransel” which means backpack. Randoseru were introduced to Japan during the 19th century and their use as the bag of choice for elementary school kids became widespread during the latter half of the 20thcentury. These ubiquitous bags are an iconic part of the Japanese elementary school experience. Kids start using a randoseru at age 6 – the first year of elementary school – and are expected to use the same bag through sixth grade.
Traditionally, girls have used red randoserus, and boys black. However, in recent years, a wider variety of colors have become popular. More than half of new randoseru purchases for girls are pink bags. Boys favor black, brown navy, green, and marine blue.