Japan’s inventied a lot of stuff. So it was a shock to find out that the airbag was not invented by a Japanese person.
What a very clever company here has done is repurposed it, outside of the car. Tokyo brand Yoccatta transforms old car airbags into a selection of stylish practical shoulder bags and backpacks.
They’re made in 3 sizes: shoulder bag, tote bag, and backpack. The handles are former car seatbelts.
Driving an eco-friendly recycling push
Yoccatta’s website (which does have English) puts Japan 3rd on the list of countries with the most car owners. Sure, you can’t buy a car over a certain size unless you can prove you’ve got a parking space for it. But tiny kei cars get around that problem.
As technology improves, cars get safer. New vehicles are made to include more airbags. But with the other safety systems in place, chances are the airbags will never need to deploy. In Japan, Yoccatta estimates that less than 10% of car airbags are ever used.
Great for passengers, not so great for the environment when the car’s scrapped. That’s a whole, brand new airbag going to waste – ‘mottainai’ in Japanese. So Yoccatta has the airbags taken out and resewn into eco bags. This is how the process works:
Each bag’s given a good trim and clean first. Bits that can’t be recycled are removed, and as much of the rest as possible is used for each bag. That airbag was made to save you, and now it’s helping to save the planet. Isn’t that interesting?
A brand name you can feel relieved about
The word ‘yoccatta’ comes from ‘yokatta’. That’s Japanese for ‘good, great, thank heavens for that’. And that’s the brand philosophy:
“Thank heaven I went through the day safely.
Thank heaven the airbag was never used.
Thank heaven the unused airbag was not discarded.
Thank heaven discarded airbag was recycled to a bag.
Thank heaven the bag is functional.
Thank heaven for the good times.”
The quality of each bag is another thing to be grateful for. They’re as painstakingly finished as the original airbags. Strong, sturdy, and reliable. Exactly what you’d expect from such an important car safety feature.
The designer behind Yoccatta, Ito Takuya, already makes stylish leather bags under his other brand, Magnu. The 2 brands are totally separate, especially in looks. We wondered if any Magnu handbags inspired the yocatta style – seems not, they don’t have much in common. And that’s a good thing, really. Over 10 years after starting Magnu, Ito-san hasn’t run out of new creations.
From automobiles to otaku fashion
Eco bags are getting popular, as shown by Yoccatta’s recent collab with Bandai to make Kamen Rider Drive-themed versions. It was the obvious choice, right? Drive? The name, and that the series showed Kamen Rider mainly travelling by car for the first time.
Kamen Rider bags have bright red stripes, zips and handles, and come in black and white versions. They’re meant to look like the Kamen Rider Mach costume. With the 2 red lines down the middle, like he got run over by a paint roller.
Thank heaven for online proxy shopping services
Yoccatta eco bags are hard to get hold of if you don’t live in Tokyo, let alone from outside Japan. Well, we’ve often got some of them in stock. Assuming 90% of cars still don’t deploy their airbags, there should be a steady supply for Yoccatta to work on. Check the website to see what’s available now.