It’s a familiar sight every weekday morning and afternoon all over Japan: children as young as six creaking under the strain of a leather backpack crammed with textbooks.
The randoseru – a Japanese derivation of ransel, the obsolete Dutch word for backpack – is a fixture of primary school education, a repository for everything a child needs to get through a day at school.
But now the children themselves are speaking out, complaining that their backpacks are so heavy that they leave them with sore backs and shoulders.
More than 90% of children aged 6-12 who use randoseru say the weight is a problem, according to a recent survey by Footmark, a Tokyo-based manufacturer of swimwear for schoolchildren.
In a report on the survey of 1,200 parents and their first-, second- and third-grade children, the Yomiuri Shimbun said 93% of pupils thought their bags were too heavy – an opinion shared by 90% of parents.
Old school backpacks too heavy, Japan’s pupils complain