Culture Quadrant: Ita Bags

Hello to all of you beautiful nerds and welcome back from traveling the vast nerd universe. I am back with a new post!

Ita Bags: What Are They and How Awesome Are They?

I have not done a Japanese Culture Focus post in a while since I have been focusing more on beauty and convention stuff but with the pandemic going around it’s time for one!

I bet you’re wondering, “What are you talking about Mari?” Well, during 2020 I had been a bit craftier and more creative than just doing my lanyard stuff and that is doing Ita Bag. I got into these because of Rayne since he had a Yuri!! On Ice bag he was making since after Holiday Matsuri 2018. Let’s get into what are these things.

What Are They Exactly? These bags are basically a backpack, a tote, or even a messenger bag, and now a suitcase with a clear window to be able to showcase your merch you have gathered based around an anime, a character, or even a couple if you went that route.

These started around the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Visual K movement came around. A lot of people were enjoying the music scene and were taking pictures of their favorite band members and attaching them to their backpacks and other bags to show off their love for said band or member. This moved into anime fandom where people started to stick their merch such as pins, buttons, and other small trinkets you can find at local shops or in those prize machines you can find around town. One bad side of this, I even fell victim of this in the past, is that some of that they fall off the bag it’s attached to. I had that happen before with keychains and pins in the past myself so you all are not the only ones. So, that is when everyone became creative and covered everything in plastic. That is where the plastic windows came to life.

The windows on these bags can either be one single window or can be two depending on the bag you get. I have a messenger bag with two windows, one side a heart and the other side a regular one. I do have two tote bags with one big window, same with a backpack, and two bell shaped bags that do have a part with a bow going across the bottom as a cute accent. You can also get these in a heart shaped bag, a cat shaped one, I saw one video that someone got a bat shaped bag and a coffin one. So, they come in various shapes and sizes, also colors too since some sellers have different colors or just basic three colors, pink, black, and almond with certain styles. There are a lot to choose from.

Oh right! There is no real answer on when they came to the United States. I know for one thing; I didn’t really get into Ita Bags until around late 2019 and my first one that I have been adding a bit to is based around My Hero Academia. I remembered at Holl Mat 2017 I was looking for messenger bags and found about Ita Bags that way and the vendor I was talking to at a booth told me that this is how fandom bags are going and I can see why since they are pretty customizable. Plus, with the merch you can find, it does hurt the wallet. Yes, “Ita” is a root for “Itai” which means “It hurts!” In this sense for this bag, it either hurts the wallet, or your arm or back depending on how much you decorate with, or it hurts to see! Heck, it sometimes gets used for Lolita, where someone wears a Lolita dress that is painful to see. Anyways, I admit I have bought a lot for my bags and trying to curb that spending even now with my finding all of my bags I’ve worked on before the move. I bet you’re wondering where can you get these?

Where Can I get These Bags? If you were in Japan, you can find these bags pretty easily at different stores but if you’re outside of Japan, like in the U. S., best bet is either online or at conventions. There are warnings that knock offs can be a huge thing in some areas on the net. My resource talked about how some people tend to take the pictures of the real thing and post it on their shop and deliver a disappointing product. I did see someone’s video that talked about a convention bag versus one from eBay, which the one from E Bay happened the same blue one I used for my MHA bag but to tell you the truth, it’s pretty sturdy from what I’ve done to it. Except I need to be careful with the safety pins opening.

There is one good brand online that does sell their bags and I highly recommend and that is Co-Kan Co. And the brand I don’t recommend is the one known as Ita Bag Palace and I will tell you why since both are related with my journey into these bags. So, this was around summer of last year and I was planning to do bags on Sailor Moon and Steven Universe. I know Steven Universe is not an anime but I love the cartoon a lot and their characters so why not do something a little more obscure. I do love obscurity; I can’t help it. Anyways, I got the bags and a few things and noticed most of my items are charm related and searched for a way of displaying them and found about chains. So, I remembered saving the info from Ita Bag Palace. I found about this brand after searching around for a bag a while back and they were a bit too pricey for my liking. I did see their changes and saw some that were pretty but the ones that caught my interest were the double chains with stars and moons. As August was about to start, I decided to purchase a chain in purple since my Sailor Moon bag was purple and a green one for my Steven Universe one since it’s green. I did not know after purchasing these chains that IBP was a bit shady. Even though they are known around the conventions in the States and the ones they tend to have a stand at in Florida include Metrocon, Anime Festival Orlando, and of course Hol Mat. I thought nothing would happen since these guys are popular! I was wrong and their Facebook explained it all since I didn’t get my items for a month. Around September, I decided to look into IBP and found their Facebook page and saw that customers did not get their items either. Even someone waited for an answer for an entire year after contacting them about their warranty, one person was trying to get in contact for their replacement bag because it broke, and some people were frustrated that they kept on getting orders throughout the pandemic and even had a code for the Black Lives Matter movement which I did use that code to get my chains but they were still expensive. They were $28 alone and felt like the discount didn’t do much. Some people did ask for refunds, I did ask for one since they weren’t answering my emails nor messages on Messenger. I’m glad I got refunded and will never purchase from IBP again not during a convention I would find them at since I got terrible service. Now their Facebook page is no longer up and their website is down to fulfill all of their orders. I saw someone’s post from Instagram about how they scalp people with high prices and that they are terrible shop owners. Not my words but their words so don’t come after me. So, that is when I went and found Co-Kan. I found about their Cutility backpack through a YouTube video and did save it to my Favorites so I could purchase it at a later date. My first item happened to be a chain. I only bought one to see if they ship out promptly and they do. They have been shipping on Saturday’s until now this year, which is a good thing, they put that on their website to let customers know about that. The chain came and I was impressed and I started to be more of a customer with them since I did buy their OTB Messenger Bag and their Cutility Bag. Good thing is that if you’re a beginner, these bags do come with a starter kit to help you start creating. One thing is that if you’re getting the bags with the insert backings, they are hard plastic so I would say if you want to have pins, I did find an Ita Make Up Bag on Etsy where you can do the pin thing that way and just use buttons when you cover it on cloth. You can find pre-made inserts on Etsy that are softer and pin friendly which I did for my Sailor Moon and Steven Universe ones. There are some that do come with the inserts already like the Co-Kan Cutility and there is a seller on Amazon that is known as Steamed Bun that has put inserts in their bags too. You can get bags from other people even on Etsy people have made bags too.

If you’re wondering, besides the three I’ve mentioned, what else am I making?

My Bags: As I mentioned above, I have made three with a bell style bag that I started with. I purchased them on E Bay for around $15 and up depending on the seller. The My Hero Academia one was the first one I made. Rayne did help me with the insert which was cardboard from one of my Ulta boxes. I did have a hard time sticking the pins so I went with something more creative with a lanyard and pinned that on with safety pins. I did get buttons from E Bay and some badge buttons from a website called Tokyo Otaku Mode. I did get some keychains from Hot Topic, which is where I did get my lanyard and the pins, which were from blind boxes and single pins they sold. Some of the keychains did also come from Etsy. I did end up finding a big button of Tenya Ida from E bay, which J. Michael Tatum not only plays him but he did get us into the series and thought it would be cool as a center piece on my bag. I did also get a pencil pouch to act as my make up bag whenever I used it. With Sailor Moon, I did go a bit crazy on looking for things but I did find some neat stuff through Hot Topic, E Bay, and Etsy. It’s still in the works since I did have pins of the Eevees from Pokémon as Sailor Guardians for this. I thought it would fit since I did do crossover things with two of the keychains where My Melody was Luna on one keychain and then had another of her as Sailor Venus. I need to find my Sailor Marseon which is Flareon as Sailor Mars since I have the others in their forms like Silveon as Moon, Leafeon as Jupiter and so on. Steven Universe doesn’t have much except a patch of Steven, Rose Quartz’s sword and shield which makes sense with her being his mom and Peridot as a Ditto which sounded cute. I do have some items on the way though like buttons and keychains. One thing about certain series, learning from Rayne’s hardship with his bag, there are times where merch can be limited and you may have to look harder for stuff. Ahem! Me with Steven Universe as a good example. With the Co-Kan bags, since I was told about the hard plastic backings, I am using the messenger bag for Shoto Todoroki where I’m playing with his fire and ice sides by having the heart window be fire and the regular one being ice. It’s coming together pretty well. I’m waiting on some fan made pics of him for the heart window and will be putting buttons in the ice side. While the Cutility, which has the insert best for pins is Sanrio themed. As you know I do love Sanrio and a few characters like Keroppi, Hello Kitty, and a few others. So far that one is coming together pretty well too since I found a few things so far. I did put my pins I got from Sanrio, such as my Friend of the Month ones for December when I got my Kuromie bag and when I got a set of pins. Working on getting more patches for the outside and charms for the inside. And the ones I got from Steamed Bun; one is going to be Tenya Ida since I like him as well. I was almost thinking of doing Bakugo since I have gotten items with him except, I liked Tenya more. I may come back to Bakugo since I did get a shirt of him from a friend and my long sleeve shirt. So, I got a tote bag which I thought was a cross body one at first but I figured since running all over the place I may need to grab something from my bag and would help to reach in easily for something. So, my light blue is Tenya and the other one, which is a yellow one, will be Pokémon. I have loved this series since I was in middle school and want to keep it going with a bag. I do have to look for items but have gotten patches for it so far.

(22) What the heck is an ITA BAG? History, styles, places to find them, and more! [The Bottle #91] – YouTubeSo, guys, that is my post on Ita Bags. Glad to have a bit of a break from beauty. I am thinking of doing another post on cultural things. Not sure what’s next but will see how and when my subscriptions will get to me this month. Stay tuned!

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