Souvenir Shopping Bags Produced by Elementary School Students a Hit in Shibuya

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shopping bags in two different sizes featuring the Shibuya scramble crossing, which were designed by schoolchildren as a new Shibuya souvenir

New souvenir shopping bags sporting designs based on the local area have been produced by elementary school students in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

The bags, produced by fifth-grade students of Jinnan Elementary School, have proven to be a hit. As a result of the student’s efforts in market research and planning which would put professionals to shame, more than 500 bags had been sold within a month since they went on sale, and production continues to increase.

The students have high expectations for the bags. “I hope many people will use this bag, and it will become a new face of Shibuya,” one of the children said.

Tourist questionnaires

The idea for the bags came from a class that students in the ward take to nurture their connection with the local community. The class was introduced to all 26 elementary and junior-high schools run by the ward.

Fifth grade students at Jinnan were given the theme of tourism. Even though tourist numbers dropped due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, there have been some signs of recovery. The students held discussions and decided to make a new souvenir for Shibuya.

Tablet computers provided by the school were used to create an online questionnaire to get opinions on what would make good souvenirs and how much they should be priced. Students from all grades, as well as teachers and parents, participated in the survey. The fifth-graders also went out around the town in search of tourists to hand out the questionnaire. They received responses from about 500 people. Among opinions received, desirable gifts included “things that make me happy if someone gives it to me,” “something that can be used in everyday life” and “something priced between ¥1,000 and ¥2,000.” Based on the results, the students chose to develop the shopping bags as souvenirs.

Corporate support

To market their creation, students took their plan to Tamata Trading in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, which produces a series of shopping bags under the series name “Tokyo Shibuya pouch: Be Fabulous.”

A senior staff member gave the children useful advice on making a product that sells, telling them that it is important for the designs and colors to appeal to as many people as possible, not just to themselves,

At a meeting to decide on designs, the students came up with various ideas, such as the famously loyal dog Hachiko and the 109 shopping complex, both popular landmarks of Shibuya. In the end, four designs were chosen: Two patterns featuring the famous Shibuya scramble crossing; zelkova, designated as the tree of the ward; and iris, the flower of the ward. Tamata Trading enhanced the designs sketched out by the students to produce the final bag.

Sold out designs

The bags went on sale on Tamata Trading’s online shop in December last year. The students also went to events in the ward and sold them in person. People adored the bags, saying things like, “The colors are chic and fashionable” and “They’re so stylish I can’t believe they were designed by elementary school students.” Some of the student-designed bags sold out, and the company began making more.

The school also held a sales event in January.

“We worked on the designs over and over again before getting the finished products, so I’m glad many people pick them up,” said Rintaro Tomaru, 10, who served customers at the event.

“We have given a questionnaire to people who bought the bags to ask them about the designs. I hope we can make the most of their opinions next time,” Amane Kawamata, 11, said.

All four bag designs come in two different colors. Medium size bags cost ¥1,540, and large size are ¥1,870. All prices include tax