Making and naming school bags and other items for Japanese school entrants

So, in my last post (here) I mentioned how many things new students in Japan need, and how there are a lot of guidelines on how they should appear (dimensions, materials etc).

Some pre-schools and kindergartens even require that the parents hand-make the school bags to specific sizes.

This may sound a little intense but is widely practiced in Japan. In fact, there are dozens of books and magazines devoted to this very topic, that you can pick up in bookstores and online for around 1,000yen.

Here are some I found on Amazon Japan...

いちばんよくわかる かんたんかわいい通園通学グッズ


You can probably tell from the covers that these books specialise in teaching the readers how to make cute (かわいい) and cool (かっこいい) school goods (入園グッズ) for kids!

A quick look at the table of contents shows that there are patterns and instructions on how to make lesson bags, bags to hold inside shoes, bags to hold cups and toothbrushes, smocks, backpacks, randoseru covers and much more!

If you can read Japanese (and probably even if you can`t - there are LOTS of great pictures), this type of magazine would be essential to a mum/dad making 入園グッズ for the first time.

After you have bought/made all these gorgeous bags etc, it comes time to name and label them. Some schools have rules on how they should be named (in English/romaji/katakana/hiragana/kanji), in which colors, in which order (first name then last name, or the other way around), or using pen, stamp, or sticker. Please double check before splashing out a lot of money on the wrong type of label maker!!

I bought a set of stamps, AND some pre-printed name labels to put on Aiden`s belongings and am most pleased with my purchases.

I chose stamps from this store (called `Namey` ねいみー) and as you can see from the picture below, the stamps work on a huge range of surfaces. 

I have already stamped some clothing, a pair of inside-shoes, chopsticks, scissors, and found the stamps to work really well. The set comes with different sized stamps, black ink, a ruler, some iron-on labels to put into clothes, and some special solution to wipe off smudged ink or mistakes you make (I used it twice and it wiped the ink straight off plastic).

There are different sets (depending on the age of your child), and you can choose for the stamps to be made with English or Japanese, and also specify the order of names.

I also ordered some sticky labels from a US company called Baby Smiles Labels (here). You can customise the stickers by color, design, name and font. They are really cute, and come in sets as well as smaller packs. 

I chose a starter pack which comes with waterproof labels (large and mini sized), round shoe labels, laundry safe clothing tag labels, and a couple of metal bag tags. They ship internationally to Japan too :)

** my Japanese sister-in-law also recommended this store トマトマ as an alternative to buy sticky labels which offer names in Japanese writing too.

Hope that helps you all a bit more. 

Happy shopping, and labelling!!

Fran xx


  1. Since we transfered into school here in second term, I had to figure all this out on the run and it was a nightmare! The school thought they were being kind by not giving me a list of everything and just telling me "as things are needed", which meant frantic night-time excursions to every shopping center we could find searching for the ONE TRUE AND CORRECT brand of crayons for art class the next morning >.< I really wish I'd had the time and information to make a cute set of matching book bag/shoe bag/cleaning towels!


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