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Old-school backpacks too heavy, Japan’s pupils complain

Still Waters

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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.

The bags, initially introduced to encourage children to walk to and from school, are made to last pupils through their first six years of compulsory education.

But their durability and roomy proportions come at a price.


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