A randoseru is a firm-sided backpack made of stitched firm leather or leather-like synthetic material, most commonly used in Japan by elementary schoolchildren. It measures roughly 30cm high by 23cm wide by 18cm deep, and features a softer grade of leather or material on those surfaces which touch the body. When empty, the average randoseru weighs approximately 1.2 kilograms (about 2 1/2 pounds avoirdupois). The term randoseru is a borrowed word from the Dutch "ransel" meaning "backpack", a clue to its origins nearly 200 years ago as used in the Netherlands.
The randoseru is the most universal and recognizable feature of the Japanese school uniform and is considered symbolic of the virtues necessary to obtain a good education—unity, discipline, hard work and dedication. Traditionally, the randoseru is red in colour for girls, black for boys. While in more conservative schools the colour (and often the brand and design) is mandated and enforced, the backpack is available in a variety of colours, partly as a compromise for parents to retain some tradition within modernized schools which no longer require the use of traditional uniforms or of the randoseru.
Traditionally given to a child upon beginning their first year at school, the randoseru's materials and workmanship are designed to allow the backpack to endure the child's entire elementary education (six years). However, the care usually given to the randoseru throughout that time and afterwards can extend its life and preserve it in near-immaculate condition long after the child has reached adulthood, a testament to its utility as an accessory and the sentiment attached to it by many Japanese as symbolic of their relatively carefree childhood years.
The randoseru's durability and significance is reflected in its cost: a new randoseru made of genuine leather can carry a pricetag of over 30,000 yen, almost 300 dollars, as May 2008 exchange rate. Clarino, a synthetic material frequently used as a substitute, reduces the cost somewhat. Often randoseru are available on auction sites, in new or used condition, at much lower prices, particularly after the start of the Japanese school year in April. The randoseru is much in demand outside of Japan, especially by fans of manga, anime, or cosplay; and appreciated for their boxy roominess and distinctive style by people of all ages. To date, however, few if any manufacturers outside Japan have adopted the randoseru into their product lines and few Japanese manufacturers and distributors have made it available for export.
Big in Japan; School supplies from far away, because math homework is more fun with an ice-cream-cone eraser.(BEST BETS)(Buyers guide)(Brief article)
Sep 15, 2008; Japanese treats faithfully re-created in eraser form ($7 for six at Sunrise Mart, 494 Broome St., nr. W. Broadway; 212-219-0033)....