If you have a son or daughter, you know there’s a new trend in schools around the world, and it’s not likely to go the way of the Popples anytime soon. What is? japanese erasers They’re trendy, they’re cute, and they’re ready to knock Pokémon off the top of the mountain as the next big opportunity to make money in the schoolyard. At any given lunch hour, at playgrounds from California to Massachusetts, you can find kids busy trading miniature bowling pins for tiny cups of rubber ramen, or arguing about the commercial value of a miniature rubber hot dog. So what’s the deal…and what makes this next craze from Japan any different from those Beanie Babies in the closet or the pet rocks in your garage?
Well, more than anything else, there is a huge fun factor involved. Iwako, one of the biggest Japanese eraser makers, is constantly coming up with cooler and cuter styles for fans to open their wallets… although another Japanese company, Zensinsyoji, is also big and gaining market share every day. Japanese sushi sets, bowling balls, erasers, cakes and pastries – there are HUNDREDS of different kinds and more on the way every day. Erasers can be disassembled, reassembled, swapped and changed. Oh…and yes, you can actually erase pencil lines with them (although after collecting a few of them, you probably won’t want to).
Second, there is the price. Unlike that sinking feeling you get in your stomach every time you spend $50 on the latest Pokemon game, a couple of erasers are unlikely to put a dent in your pocket. Not only that, but if you decide you’re getting tired of one style, there’s always someone ready and willing to negotiate with you.
Japanese erasers make great gifts for a son or daughter going back to school. Why? Here’s a final little sneaky secret: They’re the only school supply that’s also a toy. This works as a kind of camouflage: after all, teachers can’t get mad at kids bringing school supplies to school, can they? Some teachers actually go to great lengths to restrict Iwako and other types of Japanese erasers, because children spend more time playing with and changing them than paying attention to their schoolwork or the teachers themselves. When the command is given for children to stop playing with their helicopter or penguin, children can always honestly state that it is an eraser and not a toy at all. The solution? Well, all children hate having to use the eraser, so sometimes a clever teacher asks the child to erase something with one of the erasers. Most kids would rather put away their Iwako than risk rubbing an ugly black pencil mark on it.
Kids spend an unbelievable amount of pocket money to buy all their favorites…thankfully, these beauties are only a dollar each, so they’re exactly the kind of thing everyone can collect and enjoy. If someone starts to feel left out, it’s the perfect thing or a teacher to use (bribe?) their class to make everyone feel a part of things. One teacher I know uses them as a reward for memorizing multiplication tables – he has a big jar of erasers on his desk, and anyone who gets 100% right gets to draw one at random (and yes, there’s more than a little gripe when someone only needs one particular piece of sushi to have a complete set, and he ended up with a frog).