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What Japanese Women REALLY Have in Their Bag?! (It Surprised Us Too!)

What Japanese Women REALLY Have in Their Bag?! (It Surprised Us Too!)

Date published: 10 January 2020
Last updated: 27 October 2020

Live Japan’s Taiwan editorial team dove deep into the lives of Japanese women by asking a simple question: “What’s in your bag?”

Simply by going up to someone in the street and asking what they are carrying in their bag is a pretty big insight into their personality and daily life – are they super messy, are they extra-prepared? We’ve all wondered at some point what secrets lie in someone’s bag!

So, we went ahead and found 20 Japanese women between the ages of 20 and 40 to show us on the spot what was in their bag. From basics to out-of-the-ordinary, how much does this show us about Japan in general?

Table of Contents
  1. The No. 1 Must-Have was Medicine!
  2. Makeup For Touch-ups Was Essential for Women in Their 20s
  3. Next up is Hair Accessories
  4. Students Often Carry a Notebook and Diary
  5. Secret Must-Haves! Breath Care
  6. Lastly, a Few Lesser-Carried Items

The No. 1 Must-Have was Medicine!

The No. 1 Must-Have was Medicine!

Most of the Japanese women we interviewed were carrying some kind of medicine in their bag.

"I carry my cold medicine. You never know when you might start feeling ill." (22-year-old college student)

“Headache medicine is my must-have. I always carry it with me because it’s particularly bad during that time of the month.” (24-year-old worker)

"Asthma drugs. I hardly ever need it, but I keep it almost as a good-luck charm to stop them." (32-year-old dental assistant)

"Nose medicine and painkillers. Because my work is customer-facing, I want to be ready for anything." (43-year-old / Bridal)

Whether it’s work or personal life, it’s always best to be prepared when you’re out and about, so these women take their own personal selection of medicine to help them feel better.

A lot of our interviewees also said they carry eye drops with them. So what were their reasons?

"I wear color contacts a lot, but they make my eyes dry out, so I bring eye drops with me." (21 years old / College student)

"I always put my eye drops in my bag. My contacts get dry otherwise." (41 years old / Housewife)

"I tend to get styes, so eye drops are essential to prevent that.” (39 years old / Company manager)

When wearing contact lenses or working with a computer, many people in Japan tend to carry eye drops – it seems these women are no different!

Makeup For Touch-ups Was Essential for Women in Their 20s

Makeup For Touch-ups Was Essential for Women in Their 20s

Most of the interviewees in their 20s didn’t carry an entire makeup bag, but rather a few smaller items to touch up their makeup on the go.

"I don't use a makeup bag, but I always carry one lipstick. Lipstick is enough to fix my makeup."

"Cotton swabs. I like to use them when my eye makeup smudges." (22 years old / College student)

"I hate carrying a lot, so I only put foundation and lip gloss in my bag." (29 years old / Editor)

In your 20s, your skin tends to look young and fresh anyway, so perhaps an entire makeup bag is unnecessary. But these women wanted to make sure they looked as good as they could with as little weight on their shoulders!

Next up is Hair Accessories

Next up is Hair Accessories

After makeup, the next most important item was for hair.

“Scrunchies or hair bands are a must. I have long hair so I always tie it up when I eat.” (34 years old / Marketing Manager)

"Hair oil. My hair gets dry easily." (40 years old / Housewife)

"Curlers. My bangs often go out of shape, so I carry them around to fix the situation quickly." (21 years old / College student)

A person with immaculate hair makes an instant good impression. If you’re wandering around Japan, you might notice a lot of women with gorgeous hair, and I guess now we know why!

Students Often Carry a Notebook and Diary

Students Often Carry a Notebook and Diary

Some Japanese women in their early twenties who were studying carried around a notebook and diary. Diary in this case meaning a professional calendar, as opposed to a mushy diary of their emotions!

"I like to look back on what I wrote down in classes and seminars, so I always keep a notebook in my bag." (21 years old / College student)

"I always write down in my notebook at my part-time job, so I never leave without it." (23 years old / Graduate student)

Even with the steady development of technology, there’s something comforting about good old pen and paper.

Secret Must-Haves! Breath Care

Secret Must-Haves! Breath Care

Across all ages among our interviewees were things to prevent bad breath! So, what exactly were they carrying to combat the stink?

"Mint tablets. If I have it ready in my bag, it can kind of wake me up, but it’s also good for bad breath." (24 years old / Temp)

"Gum is my must-have! Whenever I’m about to meet someone I chew some minty gum beforehand." (30 years old / Housewife)

"Toothpicks. If you have something stuck in your teeth then your breath will stink too." (40 years old / Housewife)

"Mouth spray. I use it before going out and before meetings." (33 years old / Sales)

Who knew there were so many different types of breath care out there?

Lastly, a Few Lesser-Carried Items

Lastly, a Few Lesser-Carried Items

Finally, we’ll wrap up with the items that just one or two of our interviewees were carrying. These weren’t a majority, but they were interesting nonetheless.

"Glasses. I need them to drive." (34 years old / Accounting)

"A clinical mask. I use crowded trains a lot, so I use them to try and prevent catching a cold." (45 years old / Part-time worker)

"A scarf. It keeps me cool in the summer and is a nice blanket in the winter. I get cold easily so I feel uneasy when I haven’t got it on me!” (29 years old / Service industry)

"Safety pins. You can use them as a quick clothes fix in a pinch." (35 years old / Housewife)

It’s interesting to see the personal items that individuals carry around depending on their own situation too!

A spare hair band or some gum might not seem that unusual, but perhaps carrying medicine wherever you go is not the norm across the globe. What do you think? How does this compare to what you carry around on a daily basis? Perhaps it’s different to those around you too, but maybe don’t go snooping in their bags to find out!

Written by: Tanaka Ran

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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