Lucky bag

2 Jan

Have you ever been in Japan in early January, just after New Years?
Did you notice many stores selling bags (usually red and white) that are sealed shut so no one can see inside them?

Do you know what those bags are?

They’re called 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“). The Japanese word 「福袋」 is normally written on the bags…but sometimes the English words “Lucky Bag” or “Happy Bag” is written on them.

「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) translates to “Good fortune bag” or “Lucky bag”.

These are a post-New Years tradition in Japan. Most stores offer them. They fill the bags with various items from the previous year’s merchandise that they need to get rid of to make room for new merchandise…and they sell the bags at a big discount—often 50% or more!

Many stores offer different price ranged bags…usually about ¥3,000, ¥5,000 and ¥10,000. But, of course, some stores 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) could be priced higher or lower depending on the type of items the store sells.

This store has two types of "Fukubukuro", priced at ¥1050 and ¥2100.

The catch is…customers can’t look inside the bag before the purchase it. Clothing stores will label the bags “Men’s”, “Women’s” or “Children’s” wear and the size of the clothes in the bag. But other than that, the contents are a mystery.

Young women and teenage girls love to shop (as the father of three teenage girls…believe me, I know this!), so 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) from stores that cater to them are especially popular.
Every January 2nd, young women line up outside the trendiest women’s fashions stores before they open…and as soon as the doors open, it’s a mad rush to buy the 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“)!

The 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) from these stores in Tokyo are known to be all sold within two minutes!

Then, the young women all can be seen outside the stores looking at the things they’ve just purchased…and trading the items amongst each other.

A crowd of young women lining up to buy Fukubukuro at a popular store in downtown Tokyo.

Would you buy a 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“)? Have you ever bought one?
I never buy them…but my daughters like them. They usually buy one every year…including today.

16 Responses to “Lucky bag”

  1. penman January 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    What a nice way to dispose unsaleable goods, but it’s like gambling. In Indonesia we called this kind of thing ‘membeli kucing di dalam karung’ or ‘buying a cat in a sack’, because we don’t know what’s inside until you open it. Your daughter is very lucky to find a trading partner.


    • tokyo5 January 19, 2012 at 12:18 am #

      >‘buying a cat in a sack’

      Coincidentally there is a similar expression in English (“Let the cat out of the bag”) but has a completely different meaning (‘revealing a secret’).

      >Your daughter is very lucky to find a trading partner.

      Well, there were many kids there…so most of the ones who wanted to were able to find someone who wanted to trade with, I bet.


  2. musings January 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    I’ve heard of this and it looks like a ton of fun! I’d be very tempted indeed!


    • tokyo5 January 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      You should come to Japan by January 2nd sometime, then. 😉


  3. sixmats January 3, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    I went to the mall on the 1st after seeing an advertisement for a sporting goods store. They had these seperated by brand and size (and they were a really good deal) and they even showed what was included in the bags. I sometimes do not fit into J sizes, so I asked if I could try it on and they let me.

    This was however not in Tokyo.


    • tokyo5 January 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

      Yeah, even in Tokyo some stores are more lenient with the “rules”.


      • stu January 6, 2012 at 1:45 am #

        That’s true, based on my experience. Last year (which was our baptism with Fukubukuro), the saleslady allowed us to have a peek of what’s inside. This year though, the same store didn’t let us have a look. But like last year, they willingly informed us what sort ot items to expect and how much roughly all the merchandise cost. In general, buy only the brand you trust. My best experience was with Samsonite store where I got a Large size luggage plus 5-6 other items worth 60,000+yen for the price of only 10,500yen. And the best part is, all the included items are displayed.


      • tokyo5 January 6, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

        Did you get ¥60,000 worth of Samsonite luggage for only ¥10,500?
        That’s a great deal!


  4. cuteandcurls January 3, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    After much thoughts,I wouldn’t buy them either and I love to shop, I just dont want to feel any regrets or loss on the first day of the New Year 😀


    • tokyo5 January 3, 2012 at 2:36 am #

      >I just dont want to feel any regrets

      Well, as I wrote in this post, young women gather outside the store and trade the items that they don’t want.

      My youngest daughter bought one yesterday with a jacket she didn’t like…and was able to trade with another girl for a jacket she does like.


  5. gigihawaii January 3, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    nah, I wouldn’t buy such things. I am too frugal and I also hate to shop!!!


    • tokyo5 January 3, 2012 at 1:23 am #

      >I am too frugal

      But the contents are priced at great discount. Wouldn’t that make them more appealing?

      I’m just asking. I never buy them either. I don’t like to gamble…and it’s a gamble if you’ll like the merchandise in the bag…even if it’s from your favorite store.


  6. Metal Odyssey January 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    This “Lucky Bag” concept is marketing genius. A. Stores do move their unsold product from the year before and B. These stores are taking in money.

    It’s too bad that “I find” marketing “across the board” in America to be too tight fisted. If many stores in America would catch onto this form of retail ingenuity, then maybe, just maybe, some of these same stores would stop closing down or filing for bankruptcy. A recent “huge” department store chain here has declared they will be closing over 100 stores… Kmart.

    All these “little steps” to make your product move add up for that “bottom line”. Once again, Japanese marketing “gets it”. 🙂


    • tokyo5 January 2, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

      Yeah, these bags really work well to quickly sell the previous year’s unsold stock…and many customers like them because they can get merchandise from their favorite stores at a steep discount.

      >(K-mart) closing over 100 stores…

      Isn’t K-mart doing well anymore? When I was growing up, that was one of the most popular discount department store chains in America.
      When I lived in America, I had never seen or heard of Wal-mart (maybe that chain started after I had already come to Japan)…but K-mart was very well-known.


      • Metal Odyssey January 3, 2012 at 12:03 am #

        From my experience from shopping at both K-Mart and Walmart:

        Walmart’s prices are way, way lower than K-Mart.

        Walmart’s employees are all around the store to help you out. K-Mart? Forget about it!

        About 6 years ago, I once asked an appropriate K-Mart employee if their store would donate a DVD player to my daughters school. I was told: “K-Mart does not do donations”. Whoa! Those were the exact words. I then asked the appropriate Walmart employee the same question… I received not 1 but “2” DVD players for my daughters school! True story.

        Yes, back in the 80’s there were not as many Walmart stores around… like there is today.


      • tokyo5 January 3, 2012 at 12:13 am #

        >Walmart’s prices are way, way lower…(and) employees…help you out.

        Well, I guess that’s why they’re taking K-mart’s customers.

        >K-Mart does not do donations…Walmart…(donated) “2″ DVD players for my daughters school!

        That makes an impression on the community too.

        BTW, Wal-mart is now “kinda” in Japan too. The Japanese department store chain, Seiyu, was having financial trouble years ago and the American chain bought some shares in that company. It helped Seiyu and it let Wal-mart enter the Japanese market.
        Over time Wal-mart purchased more and more shares and now they completely own Seiyu. All of the stores still say “Seiyu” on the front because it has brand-recognition in Japan (Wal-Mart is unknown to most people in Japan)…but the store changed their lay-out to a more “American” store’s style and I’d estimate that about 70% of their merchandise is “regular” products that department stores in Japan carry and the rest is “American” merchandise imported from Wal-mart in the U.S.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: