In my March 20 column in the Japan Times, I report that last year the average purchase price for a randoseru, the sturdy school bag used by Japanese schoolchildren, was ¥36,600 (about $438 at current exchange rates). One of the reasons they’re so expensive is that the manufacturing process involves a lot of hand work. Making a randoseru involves as many as 300 different steps and more than 200 parts. Leather ones require as many as five cow hides.
I enjoyed watching this movie showing how randoseru are made. It’s about 15 minutes long and would be fun to watch with a child, particularly one who is just entering school. (I couldn’t find a date on the movie. I suspect it’s a little out of date but still relevant; many manufacturers are small shops and are still making their bags very much like this.)