At Map Happy, we have a special affinity for Japanese craftsmanship. Probably because the Japanese are fanatical about everything they do. It makes them crazy, but crazy in ways that we love and cherish.
If shopping was all about the pursuit of status, having what no one else has, and the pinnacle of human craftsmanship, Japanese bags should be at the top of that the mix. Because as modern as the country is, it can be a rather insulated country that keeps all its best things locked inside.
There will be literally no one else that has the bag that you have.
Please keep in mind that outside Japan, and Asia, it's often difficult to access some of these brands. Most of these manufacturers have a limited web presence and if they do, it's often impossible to get a breadth of how impressive some of these bags are. (Get that Google Translate on Chrome working.)
Perhaps always a good reason to make a visit to Japan?
This Japanese brand's moniker makes me think of science, and yes, because it's kinda in the name. But we're really not here to talk about hypertension and its increased risks in cardiovascular disease.
Instead, this middle-to-upper tier bag manufacturer seems like a winning combination of affordability and construction. ace.Gene covers full range of suitcases, business briefcases, backpacks, and totes. But most stock can only really be accessed in person.
Strangely, ace.Gene also just seems to be known as ace (not to be confused with this brand). It's good information to know when you begin that hunt for an online retailer that carries the brand.
Bar none, Hergopōch leather was the most exceptional we saw while in Japan.
Perhaps the most accessible (and most expensive), Hergopōch bags are exactly the type of gift you'd give to someone on an extremely special occasion, like a milestone anniversary, wedding or retirement. It's almost like gifting a 60-inch TV to a man, though I'm not sure exactly which most men would prefer. (The briefcases were absolutely standout.)
Expect to pay for the privilege. It's fairly typical to see bags range around ¥50,000 ($340.46 USD), but even at that price point, it's possible to spend two or three times the price for the same quality the Japanese brand manages to deliver. In other words, it's still a "deal."
Question is, what effect are you going for?
The first time I laid eyes and fingers on a Tazune backpack's leather, I knew. Here was the perfect casual and dressy backpack essentially perfect for urban and casual commuting. Not too big, not too small, beautiful form factor, soft-as-button-leather that showed indication that it would wear well over time, with decent compartments all at a reasonable price point. (The backpack size we looked at was priced at ¥22,000, or $149.80 USD.)
It's hard practicing self-restraint in Japan, but we succeeded. Tazune products seem to strike the perfect balance between superior craftmanship, a progressive timelessness and value.