If you’ve got a son or daughter, you know that there’s a hot new trend gripping schools around the world, and it’s not likely to go the way of the Popples anytime soon. What is it? Japanese erasers. They’re hip, they’re cute, and they’re poised to knock Pokemon off the top of the mountain as the next big grab for schoolyard cash. At any given lunchtime, in playgrounds from California to Massachusetts, you can find kids busily trading miniature bowling pins for tiny cups of rubber Ramen, or arguing about the trade value of a miniature rubber hot dog. So what’s the big deal…and what makes this next fad from Japan any different from those Beanie Babies in the closet or the pet rocks in your garage?

Well, more than anything else, there’s a huge fun factor involved. Iwako, one of the largest manufacturers of Japanese erasers, is constantly coming out with cooler, cuter styles to get fans to open their wallets…though another Japanese company, Zensinsyoji, is also big and gaining market share every day. Japanese sushi sets, bowling balls, food erasers, cakes and pastries – the there are HUNDREDS of different kinds, and more on their way every day. The erasers can be taken apart, put back together, swapped and traded. Oh…and yes, you can actually erase pencil lines with them (though after you collect a few of them, you probably won’t want to).

Second, there’s price. Unlike that sinking feeling you get in your stomach every time you plunk down $50 for the latest Pokemon game, a couple of erasers are unlikely to put much of a dent in your pocketbook. Not only that, but if you decide that you’re getting tired of one style, there’s always someone out there ready and willing to trade with you 母嬰用品專門店.

Japanese Erasers make excellent gifts for a back-to-school son or daughter. Why? Here’s one final sneaky little secret – they’re the one school supply that’s also a toy. This works as a kind of camouflage – after all, teachers can’t get angry about kids bringing school supplies to school, can they? Some teachers actually go through great lengths to restrict Iwako and other kinds of Japanese erasers, because kids spend more time playing with them and trading them than actually paying attention to their schoolwork or the teachers themselves. When the order goes out for the kids to stop playing with their helicopter or penguin, the kids can always claim – truthfully – that it’s an eraser and not a toy at all. The solution? Well, every kid hates having to actually use the eraser, so sometimes a crafty teacher will ask the kid actually – gasp – erase something with one of the erasers. Most kids would rather put their Iwako away than actually risk rubbing an ugly black pencil mark all over it.

Kids spend an incredible amount of pocket money to buy all of their favorites…fortunately, these cuties cost as little as a dollar each, so they’re exactly the kind of thing that everyone can collect and enjoy. If someone starts to feel left out, they’re the perfect thing or a teacher to use (bribe?) his or her class with in order to make everyone feel a part of things. One teacher I know uses them as rewards for memorizing multiplication tables – he keeps a big jar of erasers on his desk, and anyone getting 100% correct can pull one out at random (and yes, there’s more than a little complaining when someone needed only one particular piece of sushi to have a complete set, and ended up with a frog).