Keitai straps, what's the big deal?

We've seen them in anime, we've seen them in Japanese shows, and we've seen them adorning the cell phones of not only Japanese youth, but essentially a large population of those who have a passion for Japan and anime. But what exactly makes these fashion accessories so attractive, and how did these seemingly simple straps become such a prominent part of Japanese pop culture?

Dancing Girl from has quite the collection of straps and dingalings on her iPhone

Simply put, cell phone straps, or keitai straps, are charms that are connected to a mobile phone using a small strap, which is looped through a hole which most phones have, with the exception of several new smartphones.

A massive success in Japan for awhile now, the movement has spread to many different parts of the world, with many different straps and charms of all sorts, from rubber hot dogs and hamburgers, to Louis Vuitton and Gucci straps. There's a strap for everything, and everyone. But how exactly did this come to be? What exactly is so appealing about having a Christmas tree hanging down from your phone, with several pounds added to the weight of your phone?

Contrary to what you may think, phone straps actually do have an indirect relation to the history and the lives of the Japanese people. Although several theories are present, the most prominent and feasible one is the Netsuke Theory. Netsuke are miniature sculptures invented and popular during the Edo Period when traditional garments had no pockets and people carried containers filled with personal effects. The containers hung from the robes’ sashes and the fasteners of the cords were objects called netsuke. The netsuke were carved out of many materials such ivory, lacquer, and porcelain; and depicted subjects including those found in daily life, religion, trades, animals, and people. The theory is that the strap evolved directly from the netsuke and is the modern expression of an art form, as they both share a common origin and esteem good design, material, and variety. Although this theory seems slightly far fetches, but netsuke, directly or indirectly, influenced the keitai strap movement, giving people the idea to decorate an everyday object like a cell phone with a tiny ornament.

Of course, there's also the possibility that people just want to be able to put their hand into a strap to prevent their phone from crashing onto the ground, breaking into smithereens, but nowadays, it really comes down to a matter of personalization, individuality and uniqueness. First popular in Japan, phone straps had made their way through the whole world, and even shocking some people who see such monstrosities hanging from phones. Personalization via ringtones, wallpapers, themes and such have always been present, but customizing the exterior of the phone was never really touched upon until the dawn of the keitai strap.


So if you have a phone with a billion straps, feel free to share them with us in the comment section below! A big thanks to @Systems_ for suggesting this topic. If you'd like to see a particular topic be featured on the next "what's the big deal?" post, give us a shout and we'll see what we can do!


  1. Hmm I've actually been wanting one for awhile nyo. But since I bought a new phone I don't have a place for me to "strap" it onto.

  2. Akiyama Mio Strap looks cute :)

  3. The squid girl charm is so cute!! For people like me who doesn't have a strap hole you can always buy a strap button that sticks on the back of your phone I'm getting one myself. It's on the it's called GUM Strap Charm Button
    for iPhone and Cell Phones they also have others that work too.