While usually seen strapped to the backs of heavily laden elementary school kids scampering about on trains or running off to their lessons, Japan's "randoseru" backpacks are proving to be a surprise hit among foreign tourists and fashionistas.

At a luggage store in Tokyo's upscale Ginza's shopping district in late November, foreign tourists appeared intrigued by the randoseru on display.

"I'll buy a bag as a present for my son," said Li Jian, a 32-year-old Chinese tourist from Beijing who often visits Japan. "I was also asked by friends to buy the bags for their children, so I'll purchase two or three of them today."