At the beginning
Originally, the Randoseru was a sturdy backpack with a large storage capacity, fitted to Dutch soldiers, known as Ransel. It was for these qualities that Japanese parents began, in the late 19th century, to give their children similar backpacks to carry textbooks.
The randoseru is a rigid backpack mainly made of leather but it can also be made of synthetic material. The traditional Randoseru is made up of more than 200 components and different parts assembled. Due to its robustness, it weighs relatively heavy (1.4kg). For this reason, the Japanese have developed Clarino, a synthetic material intended to lighten the bag. The most common colors in Japanese schools are red for girls and black for boys, although they are becoming rarer due to the increasing possibilities of customization offered by manufacturers.
The randoseru is one of the most recognizable elements of Japan. A large number of shônen (Manga for teenagers) show schoolchildren wearing their Randoseru. It is a symbol of the Japanese spirit, embodying values of Robustness, hard work and infinite meticulousness. It is traditionally offered by parents and / or grandparents to a schoolchild beginning elementary school, the Randoseru must be able to follow the child throughout its six years of elementary school. Many then children who are now adult keep their Randoseru as a souvenir or to pass it on to their own children.
The attention paid to its finishing and the manufacturers’ efforts to make it more robust (more solid materials, less automated manufacturing techniques) make it an exceptional bag and this is reflected in its price. A new bag can cost between 20,000 yen and 150,000 yen. The price varying according to the material (Leather or Clarino) and the way of producing them (Machines or hand sewn)
Demographic evolution of Japan and future of Randoseru
Randoseru has a market share of almost 90% of Japanese schoolchildren. The market being saturated and the Japanese demography going down, some manufacturers are now targeting international markets. They are still few in number and they seem to have great difficulty in making western parents, who are used to offer their children entry-level bags every year – accordingly with the child’s mood – to purchase such elaborate and expensive bags. This will not happen without a mentality change.