The Third Day of Christmas in Japan

…three french hens…

Well. Maybe handbags. And not just French but Italian too. That sounds like a much better gift, doesn’t it? Louis Vitton, Gucci, Chanel, etc.

It may come as no surprise at all that many of the young women I mentioned yesterday request, and receive these sorts of handbags at Christmas time. The surprising bit is that many men request handbags too.

The manbag, or murse, or whatever is incredibly popular with the salaryman set in Japan. A wide selection is available to match one’s particular hobbies and lifestyle. For example, there’s the open-faced, free climber’s chalk-bag used to hold a cell phone and cigarettes, or there’s the nylon and neoprene waistpacks made popular by hikers and mountain climbers.

Or there’s the designer set. Which is where Christmas comes in. Walk into any department store or men’s store in Japan and you’ll find a whole accessories section with an assortment of matching wallets and bags. Often the set includes a cigarette / cell phone holster, key fob, wallet, datebook cover, business card case and the bag to hold it all.

Based on my own research (I asked my students) these sets seem to be most coveted by the twenty to thirty year olds who, most likely, already have a set but want to upgrade to a more professional looking set. Previously, these men have been content to wait until they reached a station in life where the set could be given as a Father’s Day present. Recently, however, they’ve been asking their girlfriends for these sorts of sets for Christmas.

I can’t recall ever seeing sets like this available for men in the Macy’s or even the Sears in any town I’ve lived in. Then again, I haven’t been in the States for Christmas for a while. Have things changed?

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