I now understand why these Japanese school-bags or randoseru (ランドセル) are so expensive : beautiful craftmanship ! According to wikipedia, 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. 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 his or her first year of 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 often carry a price tag of over 35,000¥.