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handbag elbow

Anyone who has spent more than a few days in Japan will have noticed the unique way in which Japanese women carry their handbags. You know, the "bent arm" routine.

Osaka General Hospital has recently treated a number of women who've suffered injuries as a result of this awkward method of bag carrying. So it's not just a strain on their elbows; it's a strain on the health service too.

A publicity campaign is being planned to show people more conventional ways of carrying a bag, in the hope of reducing the number of cases of RHSI (Repetitve Handbag Strain Injury).

More commonly known as 'Handbag Elbow', symptoms include a painful and tender elbow, sometimes with a small knobble.

Handbag Elbow Techniques:

Here we see the most common bag-carrying
method. The Elbow Angle is about 45 degrees
and presents no hazard to pedestrians walking
in the opposite direction.


The arm is open at an angle of about 20 degrees.
This is usually the mark of a confident, high-earning


Usually adopted by more experienced bag-carriers.
It requires high-level concentration as well as
excellent hand-eye coordination.


This one is a real treat for bag-watchers. It's
as rare as a four-leaf clover and usually adopted
by those who want arms of the same size.

The normal arm of a lady.

One shopping trip too many?
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On Monday, 25 December, 2006, Blogger Invader Stu said:

Number 3 also looks like she is dancing to YMCA  

On Monday, 25 December, 2006, Blogger Bruce said:

No, Number 3 is dancing to the YWCA.  

On Tuesday, 26 December, 2006, Anonymous Lbow Fetish said:

Handbag elbow is sexy!  

On Friday, 12 January, 2007, Blogger the orientalist said:

Ah yes, the "I'm a little teapot" school of handbag carrying. "...here is my handle, here is my spout"

Must be something in the water though because I find myself doing it within a few weeks of arriving in Japan.  

On Saturday, 31 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said:

I just know when the credit card is going to be spanked hard when my wife places her handbag is this position - it's a sign she is going to storm Ginza!  

On Friday, 20 April, 2007, Blogger Furu said:

I was a ryuugakusei near Osaka last year, and me and fellow foreign girls would laugh and laugh at the quaint way our Japanese counterparts carried their shopping...but hell if within four months we weren't all doing it too. I think it was because the sidewalks are so crowded that whenever I would carry them the old way I'd whack people with them.  

On Monday, 04 June, 2007, Blogger Jeff said:

I believe this is now a worldwide trend. I'm not sure who started it,the Japanese or Hollywood stars but in the last week I have seen bags carried like this in Chicago, Seoul and Bangkok.  

On Saturday, 02 November, 2013, Anonymous Grisalda said:

Ene in Italy, young 14 year old girls do it, and I want to start a campaign against it as , apart from looking quite ridiculous, I am sure it can cause some serious injury in the future. Thanks for the post and giving me a name for the RHSI!  

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