Probably European prefer backpack much more than tote bags. Therefore it is much harder to find tote bags in Europe than in Japan.
Tote bag can be used as principle bag and also as the secondary bag. For example, if you want to carry something which you do not carry to your office, you should put it into the tote bag rather than carry a plastic bag. Also tote bag can be folded easier than other bags and therefore you can put into your primary bag when it is empty. Then, due to plastic bags are no longer free of charge in Japan, you can use it as shopping bag.
As like there are many T-shirts sold as souvenirs, a lot of tote bags can be found at stores with different kinds of logos. Then, sometimes buying T-shirt is risky in Japan due to the size can be much smaller than in Europe but there is no risk to buy tote bag for yourself or for your friends, families and love ones.