Photo/IllutrationOrders have flooded in for the “Kochi’s purse” (Mizuho Morioka)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KOCHI--When people see an unusually designed purse they think is a Coach bag, they often take a second look at the label, not believing it is a product of the U.S. luxury brand.

Instead, Shoichi Nakajima, 25, a young local designer, created the "Kochi" purses labeled with the Chinese character of his current home prefecture of Kochi, in westernmost Shikoku. Although the brands are different, the pronunciation is the same.

In August, when a Japanese comedian learned about the purse, he tweeted about it, saying, “Oh, I thought it was a Coach. But it is actually a 'Kochi.' ”

The tweet garnered about 180,000 likes and about 30,000 retweets as of Sept. 3, which prompted more than 6,000 orders from across Japan for the purse.

“Kochi Prefecture made me think that I can live my life whichever way I like,” Nakajima said. “So, I want to return my appreciation to this prefecture.”

As a child, Nakajima was unable to adjust to his surroundings from his elementary school days and was often absent as he was in poor health. While in junior high school, he started to refuse to go to school. During his high school years, he attended an alternative school, known as a "free school," in Kochi.

A teacher whom Nakajima met at the alternative school affirmed his way of living life. Originally, he liked making objects from trash and the teacher supported his dream to “do art.”

“I thought that I could be myself for the first time,” Nakajima said.

After graduating from the Osaka University of Arts in Osaka, he returned to Kochi and started working on his own Kochi designs from home in August 2017.

Seeking to create a European style and elegant design, which can add value to a brand, the purse was completed in December, which he named “Kochi’s purse.”

One of his purposes for establishing the brand was to convey the good nature of the prefecture to the nation.

“I am happy that many people are using the purse and the name of ‘Kochi’ is spreading widely,” Nakajima said. “I want to continue promoting the prefecture.”