School Prep in Japan - getting Little Guy ready for Grade One - ichinensei

A few weeks ago I told you we'd been out on a few playdates. The big topic of conversation was whether or not we had bought the school bag. Apparently buying the bag is a rite of passage in a little person's life as is purchasing the appropriate study desk. Since these things have a hefty price tag they are often bought by doting grandparents a little while before school starts or on the kid's sixth birthday, maybe for Christmas.

Our kids' grandparents arranged this day about a month ago for Little Guy. It was good timing too since Noodle had his birthday yesterday.

The 'randoseru' backpack is made from leather or a leather composite so it resembles a hard case with back straps and a front flap. Noodle stuffs his to the gills carrying all his notebooks and textbooks back and forth everyday. There are hooks on the outside for clipping on the lunch bag, sports kit bag, shoe bag, recorder case, whatever you can manage.

Little Guy was pretty taken by the bag he is wearing in the photos but I managed to convince him to get one the same as Noodle's which I know to be an excellent brand. Noodle's one still looks great on the outside, no signs of wear and tear at all (after five years of daily use). Little Guy's one is black with blue stitching. It weighs just 840 grams. It was handmade in Osaka!

Take a look at this heartwarming advertisement from the company (Seiban).

The desk we ordered from the same shop arrives next week (free delivery, how's that?) and then school starts in April - yes, months away but it seemed to be peak buying time judging by the crowds at the shops.

Thank goodness for grandparents. The desk, the chair, a desk blotter and the backpack cost over a thousand dollars! They couldn't care less as for them it was all about memory-making, grandparently duties and being a part of the event. They snapped as many photos as I did.


  1. And this is why I'll probably homeschool Jonathan once he's finished yochien! There'll only be a handful of months left before we leave, and Isabelle will be in yochien still, so it's not worth paying fees/buying supplies for such a short time! Having paid yochien and uniform fees, I shudder to think how much school must be?!

  2. What a moving commercial!

    My son is the same age as LG so will be starting in April too! He got his Randoseru in August and was very happy with it. I can't believe it's almost time for them to go! They were just born.

    I am still undecided on the desk. I'd like somewhere for him to store his stuff but he still does his English homework on the kitchen table so I don't think he needs one yet. Mostly I just don't want to give him another excuse to stay in his room without me. :)

    Alyce- The bag and desk aren't necessary by any means. Just send him with a regular backpack! There aren't school fees for elementary school, just lunch/PTA. The lunch is a lot cheaper than it would cost me to make! Does your area have uniforms? Ours does, but I think it's one of the only areas left in Japan with elementary uniforms.


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