There are two important things to bear in mind regarding Japanese fashion. First is that, since so many people use public transportation, they almost always need some kind of a bag or backpack to carry their stuff in when they go out. Second, after spending all week wearing a mandated uniform or bland business suit, come the weekend, some people are overcome with the urge to express their individuality to the fullest with their clothing and accessory choices.
With that in mind, just about the fastest route away from your button-down Monday to Friday look is to slip on a backpack that’s the exact shape and size of a tiger’s head.
These eye-catching backpacks have been offered for sale by shops in trendy neighborhoods like Shibuya and Harajuku for at least a year. With animal prints being predicted as a popular look this winter, though, interest in them seems to have reached some sort of critical mass, and you can now order them from online retailer Nissen.
Some people feel a sense of empowerment from wearing animal-print clothing, whether from the image of physical strength associated with the wild beats, or simply the freedom of being openly ostentatious. We’re guessing these bags provide a similar benefit, while also striking terror into the heart of anyone who walks behind you. As a matter of fact, one online commentator was curious about what would happen if you ran into a bear, Japan’s largest native predator, while wearing one of these.
In addition to the standard tiger, Nissen also sells a white version.
And if the idea of strapping a tiger’s head to your back is just too silly, there’s also the more dignified option of a lion with a stately mane.
All three styles can be ordered from Nissen here, priced at 7,800 yen (US $68). Between their closeness in size to the actual animals’ heads, plus their lifelike eyes, the effect of seeing one of these poking out from a crowd of pedestrians on one of Tokyo’s busy streets or intersections can be pretty powerful.
But the primary purpose of a bag is to hold stuff, after all. How will these backpacks measure up on that front?
Possibly not quite as well as they do in the looks department. On its website, Nissen describes each as having “a pocket on the back that can easily hold your cell phone, wallet, or other small items.”
Since a pocket that could hold large items would also be able to hold little ones, we’re guessing the exact wording of Nissen’s statement means you shouldn’t count on being able to cram a multi-day safari’s worth of gear into them.
Perhaps to make up for their shortcomings in storage capacity, there is one other unique function the backpacks have. If you’ve got a hook mounted on your wall or door, slinging them over gives you a pretty impressive decoration, making your room look like either a hunting lodge or a posh host/hostess club, depending on the amount of surrounding wood or velvet furniture.
Or, in the event that your arms are too tired from having to carry everything that wouldn’t fit in the backpack, you can save yourself the trouble of having to lift it up by tossing it on the floor. Add a blanket, then stretch out luxuriously to relax on your instant tigerskin rug.