In Japanese, they’re called “ita-bag” (痛バッグ) or, rather, “painful bag.” And for the country’s female geeks, they’re one surefire way to express their fandom.
For years now, geeky car owners have shown their love for anime, manga, and video games with “ itasha” (painmobiles). It’s been said that “ita” refers to the pain inflicted on the cars as well as the owner’s wallet.
Likewise, these badges and buttons inflict a certain amount of pain on the bag and their owner’s wallet, with some geeky young women spending a large amount of cash to decorate their bags with characters from Yowamushi Pedal, Uta no Prince-sama, or any other anime or video games popular with female fans like The Basketball Which Kuroko Plays.
The trend isn’t brand-new (it started a while back), and it’s even been portrayed in the anime Shonen Hollywood. However, in late 2015, it started getting national news coverage in Japan.
This article was originally published in April 2015, but has since been updated after the trend was recently introduced once again on Japanese TV.
Below are photos from when the trend first hit nationwide morning TV in Japan a few years back.
This woman says that ita-bag are a way for you to show just how much you love a particular character.
Many of the buttons are limited edition and only on sale at special events. So some fans, like the one interviewed here, pay a premium for them, making it expensive to decorate these bags.
The woman says she’s spent about 80,000 yen—or US$668—on bag decoration.
Here are fans who have spent between a couple hundred dollars on their bags up to around a thousand dollars—or more.
Below, you can see some more ita-bags from Twitter:
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