Last night, my husband decided that we absolutely must get a Uniqlo fukubukuro. “It’s the first year they’re selling them,” he told me, “so we’ve got to try it!” Fukubukuro, or “lucky bags”, have become an iconic New Years tradition, at least as far as consumerism is concerned.
Shops will bundle together their unsold merchandise from the year before in colorful bags, then sell them at a heavily discounted price. Most shoppers expect to get at least 50% off the list price, if not more. Depending on the store, fukubukuro can cost anywhere from 2,000yen to 250,000yen.
It’s a little bit like gambling, because you never know what you’re going to get. Shops almost always throw in one high-priced item per bag to entice shoppers, post some sort of short-list of sample fukubukuro items online, and occasionally even offer products that can only be found in a fukubukuro bag during New Years.
If you want that limited edition scarf, they tell you, you’d better buy a couple of our fukubukuro bags. Fukubukuro sales can be found in all major shopping areas around Japan and are usually sold from January 1st to 3rd.
And me? The only fukubukuro I like to buy are from candy shops. They’re usually very cheap, and really, you can’t go wrong with candy.