As you may have heard – or alarmingly noticed during a grocery run – Japan recently introduced a mandatory surcharge for plastic bags. From Family Mart to the supermarket, you now have to pay between 3 and 5 yen for each bag you use. A much older practice among food retailers is the effusive use of plastic packaging, making individual bananas more appealing but to the detriment of the environment. 

The surcharge is a right step: despite Japan’s intricate recycling regulations, single-use plastics are a scourge here. And just as recycling requires the complaisance of cities and households, diminishing our plastic footprint works at an individual level. Thankfully, eco bags are sold just about anywhere. If you’re looking for a reusable bag more fashionable or functional than a mere mall-bought tote, here are seven unique options.

1. Daiichi-Engei / Bianca Barnet

Daiichi Engei Bianca Barnet Tote Eco Bag Flower Shop Florist Tokyo Weekender Shopping

Starting August 1, flower shops Daiichi-Engei and Bianca Barnet are releasing two reusable totes. Made of durable canvas and roomy enough to hold three two-liter bottles, these bags are not only suitable for everyday use but also for more heavy-duty shopping. As stay-at-home practices encourage more people to buy domestic greenery, these stores are offering customers who use their original eco bag a ¥100 discount on purchases of ¥1,100 or more. See here for a shop list: next time you buy plants for the home or for gifting, throw an eco bag in the mix.

2. Plame Collome x Suica Pocketable Eco Bag

Plame Collome Suica Eco Bag JR Shopping Tokyo Weekender

In collaboration with their original fashion brand Plame Collome, the JR East group is now offering an eco bag (or bags) embellished with the Suica penguins. The tote has a pocket on the front that holds a thinner bag perfect for a bento box or conbini goods. In a wider effort to reduce plastic waste, JR East has started using 30 percent biomass shopping bags at their specialty stores, including ecute and train station commercial plazas. A limited number of the Suica totes are available at Plame Collome stores, which you can find in stations like Ueno, Omiya, Ikebukuro, Tokorozawa, Shin-Yokohama and far more. ¥2,090

3. TICKET TO THE MOON Parachute Eco Market Bag

Made from pattern-cut hammock fabric and weighing a mere 70 grams, this bag is deceivingly light – it can hold up to 15 kilos, making it perfect for lugging rice or big bottles. You can fold it to palm size and tuck it in a purse, backpack or pocket. Lastly, it is machine washable. Despite great functionality, the bag – which is available on ZOZOTOWN and THE BAREFOOT – comes in a variety of playful colors and hangs nicely across the body or on the shoulder. ¥968

4. Paradise Picnic HAM-Shibori Marche Bag

HAM Shibori Marche Eco Bag Shopping Tokyo Weekender

Shibori is a traditional type of fabric, often tie-dyed, with a unique craggy texture. This shibori bag in particular, which comes in such colors as khaki, ivory and chic mustard, hearkens to French net bags. The elasticity of the fabric makes the bag far roomier than it seems and, simultaneously, highly compact. You may have noticed that, in Japan, it’s common to carry multiple bags or “layer” bags; ever malleable, subdued but one-of-a-kind, the HAM-Shibori sachet is perfect as an “under”-bag, grocery bag or regular purse. ¥3,080

5. UNIQLO Eco-Friendly Reusable Bag

Uniqlo eco bag

The single-use shopping bag charge extends to Uniqlo and GU. The casualwear giants have been eliminating plastic bags in their stores, increasingly using recycled paper. Their parent company Fast Retailing has also been eliminating plastic packaging for select items – room shoes, the HEATTECH collection, GU innerwear. Now you can purchase a reusable tote from Uniqlo, available in medium and large sizes. The minimal design can be adapted to any occasion. ¥190

6. Ziploc x BEAMS COUTURE Dean & Deluca Cooler Bag

Ziploc Dean & Deluca eco bag

With the wave of athleisure and hypebeast dress came “transparent fashion” – clear bags, wallets, even shoes and pants. Ziploc and BEAMS COUTURE first collaborated in 2018, but this year brings a new triple collaboration with culinary chain Dean & Deluca. Thermally insulated Dean & Deluca eco bags have long been in vogue, but the new model is silver, with a Ziploc freezer bag attached to the front to hold cutlery, condiments and other small items. Two sizes, medium and small, will be available starting August 7 on the Dean & Deluca online shop and BEAMS online shop. M Size ¥4,400 | S Size ¥3,300

7. reisenthel Cooler Bag


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As socially distanced and likely open-air Obon celebrations come up, you might be in the market for a more heavy-duty insulated bag. reisenthel is a German brand that prides itself on stylish, sleek designs and high functionality. While a regular cooler might be bulky and a little unseemly, this cooler bag maintains a sturdy, wide shape – ensuring there is plenty of room for your food – while being easy to carry. The rim and handle of the reisenthel Carry Bag, on the other hand, is totally solid for heavier contents and outdoor use. ¥4,180 ~ ¥4,950