Japanese women are one of the biggest bag lovers in the world. They used to keep buying bags from well-known international brands and even reducing their living cost or borrowing money to do so. But today, things have changed. People have started to look at the real value of Japanese products, and Japanese customers have switched to their local brands that offer high quality at a more affordable price for them.
Japanese consumers are strict about product quality. They won’t like it if the bag has even a slightest defect or scratch – everything must be perfect. So, the rest of the world can rely on Japanese leather handbags to be carefully created and of high, world-class quality.
These are some common types of leather used in Japanese handbags:
Hyogo leather is the traditional Japanese leather produced in the Hyogo prefecture. The Japanese have been making leather for more than 2,000 years. Tanners can be found all throughout the country, but over 70% of Japanese leather is produced in Hyogo.
Hyogo leather is known for its comfort, durability, and warmth. The leather artisans in Hyogo are renowned for their stunning white leather products. While most white leathers around the world are dyed post-production, Hyogo’s white leather is naturally derived during the tanning process. The animal skins are first soaked in water from the Ichikawa River, which is home to bacteria that feed on hair follicles attached to animal skins. It causes the release of special enzymes, so when the skins are removed from the water, rubbed with salt, and dried in the sun – the skins are naturally bleached due to the resulting chemical reaction.
Hyogo’s white leather is rare, and of high quality, so the product and its tanners are sought out across Japan. Leather artisans in the area use typical animal skins used for leather, but they are also working with less conventional animal skins like boar, deer, and ostrich.
One famous leather producer from Hyogo is the Daisho Leather in Himeji City. This family-owned company has been making leather goods since 1925, and they are popular because they produce their original goods with a team of in-house designers.
Deerskin leather is light, soft, yet tough and has a texture that is said to resemble human skin. Deerskin is believed to be the primary source of leather used in Japan all the way back to the 4th century when it was brought to the country by Koreans. Its flexibility, softness, and sturdiness were perfect for crafting Samurai armors, which need a light and stretchy material to move around in, yet still strong and highly durable. Though cowhide leather has taken over as the major leather product made in Japan, deer leather is still highly appreciated.
Brands like INDEN-YA preserve Japanese tradition by creating handbags created from deerskin leather. The leather is crafted with patterns and protected by lacquer. The skins of wild deer are often blemished with antler scars, making it a cherished natural pattern.
Back then, firm and glazed reptile leather were very popular. However, these kinds of bags are only used in formal and dress-up occasions. Nowadays, manufacturers create softer, matte-finished leather because consumers now prefer to use high-quality bags in a casual way. Typically, reptile leather in Japan is made of snake or crocodile leather.
Fujitoyo Inc is one distinguished tanner from Japan that works with exotic leather materials like pythons, lizards, and crocodiles. They refine raw materials imported from South East Asia and Africa and turn it into quality leather materials. Crocodiles are rare, and so far, there are only six professional tanners in Japan and 14 in other countries all in all.
Bovine leather is a common material made from the hide or skin of a bovine. This type of leather in Japan is regulated by Japan Eco Leather. Processes like dyeing and embossing make the material trendy and ready for use in handbags.
This material can be enjoyed in a lot of ways. When carefully maintained for long-term use, bovine leather offers a beautiful “aging” effect like gloss and deepness of colors that only develop with time.