Over the years, we have seen otakus all over the world express their love for their hobbies. Otakus have always been creative in thinking of ways to showcase their devotion to their favorite character/s or series. From “itasha,” “ita-nails,” and “itabeya” – name it, they have done it. Recently, a new trend is becoming increasingly popular not only in Japan but also overseas. That newest trend is the “ita-bag (痛バッグ).” Read on to know more about this unique trend and how to make your own ita-bag!
To simplify things, an ita-bag is a bag filled with anime merchandise made by an anime otaku. “Itai” means “painful” in Japanese, and that is where the term “ita-bag” comes from. It is named as so because the bags that these anime otakus create is painful to the owner’s wallet, painful to the eyes of the people who see it, and painful to carry because of the collective weight of the merchandise attached to the bag. Some have said that “ita” can also refer to the pain that is being inflicted onto the bag.
Because of the uniqueness of this concept, the ita-bag has gained massive popularity among both males and females not only in Japan but also overseas. Businesses have also taken notice of this popularity. Take for example the Japanese brand, WEGO, who have been selling their own versions of the ita-bag. Otakus decorate their bags with a lot of merchandise ranging from key chains, rubber straps, button pins, plush toys, to basically anything that they can attach to their bags to create a unique work of anime devotion art.
The ita-bag following has been so big that someone has categorized ita-bag carriers into 6 types after careful and clever observations. Twitter user @naberorin posted the types along with explanations for each one:
— ぽたなべ (@naberorin) January 4, 2016
From left to right, top to bottom:
- The Multiple Carrier (Fukusuumochi) – This type refers to a person who owns several ita-bags and carries them all at the same time. This type separates different characters, series, or merchandise into different ita-bags for classification purposes.
- The Improviser (Sokkyou) – This type can be considered a beginner ita-bag creator because of the presence of a few items on their ita-bag. This person may still not be entirely committed to their bag, or they may be unsure of which character, series, or merchandise they want to worship.
- The Altar (Saidan) – This following type has a neat and arranged design on their bags. The design may be in the form of a heart shape or may be the initials of the character or the series.
- The Runaway (Iede) – This type is a step up from The Multiple Carrier. By the looks of the person carrying the bags, it seems as if the owner has brought with him/her everything he/she owns and placed it on the ita-bag. This type is likened to a person who has run away from home. Carrying a plush toy is a salient feature of this type.
- The Grape Picker (Budougari) – This type is also a step up from a previous type, The Improviser. Instead of just a few items attached to the bag, this type displays an abundance of the same product on their bag and lets them hang like a bunch of grapes.
- The Alchemist (Renkinjutsushi) – This last type is a form of The Altar. The ita-bag they carry may be made from a t-shirt with handmade items such as ribbons and badges.
Want to show your devotion, too? Want to let your creative juices spill out into a physical thing that you can show the world? Fear not, creating your own ita-bag is easy!
Here are the things you will need:
This is essential. You cannot create your own ita-bag if you don’t have a canvas to work with! A lot of people prefer to own bags that have vinyl coverings so that their items can have extra protection. If you are still not sure about this trend (The Improviser), you can choose a small bag first and just collect a few items to go with it. But if you are very dedicated and want to walk around with an extravagant shrine, then it might be better to choose a bigger and sturdier bag.
— 【公式】マジカルデイズ-TBP- (@magi_day) 2017年1月27日
You will need different types of merchandise: button pins, rubber straps, keychains, plush toys, etc. For this requirement, the sky is the limit. You can attach as many as you like as long as your bag can still accommodate them. You can attach them in an orderly manner or you can be creative with it. As for the kind of merchandise, you can display official merchandise or even fan-made merchandise. There is no discrimination involved in the making of an ita-bag just as long as you are showing your devotion wholeheartedly!
In light of this article, I would like to share my own ita-bag. I have only just started out with creating my own so it is not as impressive as the ones you can see online. I bought the bag from WEGO and the rubber keychains were from a Philippine anime store that sells official Love Live! merchandise. Toujou Nozomi (東條希) is my favorite character from Love Live! (ラブライブ!), that is why I chose her as the character I would like to devote my ita-bag to. Aside from this ita-bag, I also plan on creating other bags for other series like Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞). Looking back on the types I shared earlier, I may be on my way to becoming a Multiple Carrier.
The ita-bag is not a very new concept. It has been in the otaku community for quite a while already. But with the attention it has been getting over the past few months, it has become increasingly popular. The joy of collecting is combined with a person’s creativity, and that leads to the creation of the ita-bag. A lot of otakus really take pride in their collection and their bags let them meet other people who share the same passion.
With all of this information, are you interested in joining in on the trend? If you are, then I hope this article can help you participate in this phenomenon. Remember, the ita-bag is a display of YOUR devotion. There really are no specific rules here, just channel your love and have fun!