Maybe you know that Japanese school students wear a uniform to school.
But did you know that they wear the uniform in junior high school and high school only?
In Japanese 公立小学校 (public* elementary schools), kids wear their regular “street clothes” to school.
*(Japanese 幼稚園 (private kindergartens) and 私立小学校 (private elementary schools) have uniforms that their students wear).
Even though students at Japanese public 保育園 (nursery schools) and 公立小学校 (public elementary schools) wear street clothes to school, they still have some mandatory things that they must wear…for example, a school hat while walking to and from school (it’s almost always yellow so that drivers in cars can notice them easily), gym uniform, and a uniform school bag.
The school bag that kindergarteners carry is small and light but Japanese elementary school kids are given a ランドセル (Randoseru bag) from their parents or grandparents just before they begin the first grade.
These bags are high-quality hand-stitched genuine or synthetic leather and are designed to last for at least the six years of elementary school. Usually though they last much longer.
Most schools allow the students to use a ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) of any color they like…but the majority of girls choose a red one and boys choose a black one.
When my daughters were in elementary school they each had a red one.
Since ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) are hand-made and very durable, they’re also pretty expensive. About ¥30,000 (US $360) on average.
Because of it’s high price many lower-income families have to give their children used or hand-me-down ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags).
ランドセル (Japanese elementary school "Randoseru" bags)
Well, it was on the TV news here last month that an orphanage in Japan received an anonymous donation of ten brand new ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) around X-mas time.
Without this donation, worth about ¥300,000 (about US$3,300), the children in the orphanage who will start first grade this April would have had to use hand-me-down school bags from older kids.
The anonymous donation had a note that that they were from 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”).
「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) is a Japanese マンガ (manga (comic)) from the late 1960s – early 1970s about a professional wrestler called 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) who wears a mask that looks like a tiger.
The 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) character was an orphan who gives large anonymous donations to the orphanage where he grew up.
Due to the fact that the 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) comic is over forty years old, the news media has begun speculating that the donor of the ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) must be middle-age and that he might even have grown up in an orphanage.
Also, this news has inspired numerous “copy-cats” recently. Other orphanages around Japan have recently received anonymous donations of ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) or money with notes from “Tiger Mask” or other famous Japanese fictional characters.