A real-life “Tiger Mask”

13 Jan

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.

12 Responses to “A real-life “Tiger Mask””

  1. Alicia Jackson May 6, 2020 at 9:00 pm #

    We love the values and tradition which the Randoseru backpack embodies! However, as a backpack originally made for young children, the ergonomics simply does not allow an adult to carry it. If you are looking for one that fits the professional working adult like us we found a cool one at thehako.com. It’s sleek and light and is designed for adults. They only make in small quantities so you will have to try your luck if you can get one!


    • tokyo5 May 7, 2020 at 8:31 am #

      A randoseru for adults! It’s very interesting…and they look like nice bags on that website. I can’t imagine that they’d catch on in Japan though…the image of a randoseru is a small child’s bag.


  2. gigihawaii January 14, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    What a delightful story — especially now.


  3. metalodyssey January 13, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Now, that’s when being a “copy-cat” is downright righteous! Sounds like “good-will” fever is spreading in Japan… let it keep on spreading! 🙂


    • tokyo5 January 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

      >“good-will” fever is spreading in Japan

      Yeah, more people should help the less fortunate…especially children.


  4. pongrocks January 13, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    wow… that’s really lovely, especially in this time, where bad news are all over the place.
    And nice to see that there are still people who do this just because it’s a good deed, and not because they are some celebrities who want to stand in the spotlight once again….
    Anyway, made my day. thanks for posting 😉


    • tokyo5 January 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

      >especially in this time, where bad news are all over the place.

      I agree. It’s nice to hear some good news for a change.


  5. Dan Elvins January 13, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    Thats a pretty sweet story.

    I already know about the uniform things, Its not too different from the UK (but very different from the US where there is no uniform).

    In the UK we have kindergaten (playschool) which is ages 4-5/6 and then we have Primary School (not sure what the Japanese or American equivalents are) which is ages 6-11, During Primary School a uniform is Mandatory, a summer uniform and a Winter uniform (quite similar..its just an added winter jumper).

    Then once you reach 11 in the summer you begin Secondary School (its a summer thing when we change terms, we have 4 terms a year I believe..its been a while) and then we also have a uniform, often consisting of something similar to a suit complete with a tie. We stay at secondary school mandatory until we are 16, then we have the option to stay on 2 more years (essentially college but at school) or go to a normal college.
    Colleges have no uniform, however a few specific ones do. Then we have university which is fully uniform free (At last).

    There are many private schools that are from ages 6-16/18 that require a uniform all the way through the years, changing uniform colour or style to make upper and lower studies.

    Tiget Mask is a good role model, often “copy cats” are a bad thing (ie copy cat criminals) but in this situation its a very good thing, many children will attend school happier because of it.


    • tokyo5 January 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

      >Colleges have no uniform…Then we have university

      Aren’t “college” and “university” basically the same thing?

      >many children will attend school happier because of it.

      Yes, I think so too.


      • Dan Elvins January 14, 2011 at 2:11 am #

        Nope, just in the US. in the UK college is like undergraduate studies, and university is where you get a degree, you can only get a MAXIMUM of a diploma at a college. and college is basically like advanced school, whilst university is the final step.


      • tokyo5 January 14, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

        Japan has technical schools and junior colleges, but “college” and “university” are the same—both called 「大学」 (“Daigaku”).


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