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photo (KURARAY Co., Ltd.)

This bag is called a randoseru. The name is derived from the Dutch word ransel, which means backpack. The randoseru was first used in Japanese schools in 1885, and in 1887 the future Emperor Taisho began using a box-shaped randoseru to take his books to school. In the 1950s, these bags came to be widely used by Japanese students as their main way of carrying books to and from school.

The bags are so durable that they can be used for all six years of elementary school without wearing out. As well as leather, some are made of light synthetic leather. Traditionally, boys' bags are black and girls' bags are red, but recently pink bags and other colors and styles have begun to appear. It has also become fashionable for kids to hang small stuffed dolls of their favorite characters from their bags.