The Shopping Bag Zoo

When you go shopping, as much as the things you buy, it’s getting them in a shopping bag with a funky design that makes you happy. A few years ago PingMag published an article about wrapping paper design in Setagaya but this time we wanted to focus on shopping bags. Not only that, but we’ve been gathering examples of a combo that everyone — man, women, young or old — is guaranteed to love: sweets and animals. Alrighty, without much further ado, let’s take a look at the residents of this shopping bag “zoo”…

Toraya

Everyone in Japan must know Toraya (literally “tiger shop”), the “king” of souvenir gifts. The company was founded in the sixteenth century in Kyoto and is the most famous wagashi (Japanese confectionary) store in the land. Its design sensitively balances the traditional and the modern, and must surely rank among the top class for Japanese brands. You can find Toraya in many department stores all over the country, though the design at the Roppongi Midtown branch is superb.

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Bankaku

Bankaku is a veteran shrimp senbei (rice cracker) store. This is also well established as something you buy as an omiyage (souvenir) and would surely appear in anyone’s top ten list. The family emblem-like shrimp, which is also in the minimalist patterns in the main design, is just fab. We even want to use this as our regular bag when we are out and about!

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Usagiya

Usagiya (literally “rabbit shop”) is a dorayaki shop in Ueno. With Japanese sweets shops you often tend to see more serious colors so we really like the super vivid green here, and the rather bold rabbit.

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Sakuragitei Panda-yaki

Ueno Zoo draws crowds for its pandas and near the entrance you can also get your hands on these Sakuragitei Panda-yaki. In the bag are panda-shaped sweets. These are cute enough by themselves but we also love the sakura on the pandas’ bellybuttons, since Ueno Park is also famed for its cherry blossoms.

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Sandwich House Meruhenk

This polar bear stuffing itself with a delicious sandwich is the character for the sandwich shop Meruhenk. The bag is light pink offset with the white polar bear, but our recommendation is the cooler bag they sell at the shop. On top of the nice vibrant colors the polar bear really stands out.

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Toshima-ya Hato Sabure

Say “animals” and “sweets” — and likely 80% of Japanese people will think of this. Toshima-ya is the famed “dove shortbread” (hato sabure) shop, with its main branch in Kamakura. There you can also buy tie-in merchandise like phone straps and so on, which also pull in customers. The bag is just a dove, simple but it says everything.

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Ginza Kanoko

Of all the examples we’ve collected for this article, this has to be the most “Japanese”. It’s a bag from the old wagashi store Ginza Kanoko. With its autumn leaves and toy-like deer, the tone here is very tranquil. We also like how there is another deer inside the star at the top, above the shop’s name.

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Fukusaya

Fukusaya is a veteran castella cake store. At first glance, there don’t seem to be any animals here but take a closer look. Can you spot it? Yes, behind the logo at the bottom is… a bat. The flying mammal is regarded as a symbol of good luck in China, so Fukusaya decided to use it for their design. We hope the next Batman movie does a castella tie-up!

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Kinokuniya Panda Sabure

Japan’s luxury supermarket Kinokuniya sells panda shortbread and this is the packaging. It’s not strictly speaking a bag but it is so cute, we couldn’t resist including it here. If you’re a panda-lover then this must be the ultimate souvenir.

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