Spring in Japan is a season of Nyugakushiki(The entrance ceremony).
In the beginning of April, a new semister starts and the new students enter an elementary school in this season-cherry blossoms are at full bloom.
Many part of Japanese old tradition is westernized and our life stye has been changed.
For example, our mothers attended the entrance ceremony of us, wearing kimono with black haori-those haori had pretty dyed patterns or embroideries. Mothers of these days are all wearing suit, we seldom see mothers wearing kimono. There are things which do not seem to change-the shape of school bag and cherry blossoms in school yard.
School bags are called Randoseru. The word is originally from Dutch word `ransel' which means to carry on the back.
Around 50 years ago, my parents bought me a randoseru just like other children. At that time, new material called Kurarino was started to sell. It is synthetic leather and was light compared to leather. I remember my father chose the randoseru with this new material for me because I was very small compared to other children of the same age.
In randoseru, everything needed for school was packed-books, notebooks, harmonica and lunch box. Randoseru is a kind of backpack, so both hands were free. I think I used the randoseru my father bought for me for the whole six years. Our daughters too used theri randoseru for six years, so most of elementary school children seem to use the same randoseru for six years until they graduate from elementary school.
Randoseru are surviving and seems everyone carried randoseru during their elementary school life and this trandition keeps forever maybe. The history of randoseru is not so long-it is originally from the bag from army from Meiji period. Approx 60 years ago (five years before I was born), randoseru became popular and were used all over Japan. Is this really rare thing? Japanese school children use the same type of bag everywhere in Japan. In other countries, do school children use the same type of bags?
It used to be, the color of randoseru was fixed- boys had black randoseru and girls had red randoseru. We did not see any other color in our time. From around 15 years ago various other colors were sold and became popular. The size became just a little bit bigger, so A4 size paper could fit nicely, and the weight is becoming lighter but basic design seems not changed so much.
I think, grand parents usually buy randoseru for their grandchildren as gift. The average price of well-selling line randoseru is 39,450 yen! (approx US $334) and the price is even getting higher because of the decrease of number of children.
They do not use randoseru after graduating elementary school. Randoseru is full of memory, so after using randoseru, some people make `miniature' randoseru out of the randoseru they used.
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Seeing randoresu, we think of our childhood. Tomorrow, many elementary schools have entrance ceremony, and we can see small children carrying brand new randoseru.
photo by ajari
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