Towards the end of December in Japan, everyone is talking about fukubukuro… but what is it exactly ?
Fukubukuro is usually translated as “lucky bag”. They are bags filled with various goods from last year’s inventory, which value is usually higher than the fukubukuro price. Originally, they were a way for merchants to get rid of last year’s goods. However, nowadays, they became so popular that some stores actually prepare special goods only for fukubukuro.
January is a month of sales in Japan. As soon as stores open on January 1st or 2nd, people rush in to buy those lucky bags. For some famous brands, people line up from the night before ! Most bags usually sell out really fast, in a hour or so. Some stores now offer the convenience of ordering online (delivery on January 1st). Online stocks for popular fukubukuro are usually sold out by Christmas time. Better be fast… or be ready to get up early on January 1st and challenge the crowds !
Now, some would ask : why would you buy something without knowing what you are actually buying ? Well, first, the possibility of getting a much higher value than the price you pay is probably the major point. There is also, for some brands, the chance of getting unique, limited items.
Fukubukuro is like a lottery for shopping lovers. Although I realize it is silly, I can’t help wanting to buy it every year. I’m trying to buy wisely, however, from a shop where I usually like most of the items. If you buy a fukubukuro from a shop where you like about half of the stock, you will most likely be disappointed with the contents of your bag.
This year, I ordered a Cecil McBee fukubukuro online, and it was delivered on the morning of January 1st. Cecil McBee is a brand I like because it sells fashionable Japanese style clothing that actually fits me. When I try to blend in (fashion-wise) and try some item every girl in Tokyo is wearing, I usually find it at Cecil McBee, and it usually fits me (which is actually almost a miracle !). My only concern was that Cecil McBee’s main colors are black and white, and I absolutely can’t wear white, so I was worried about getting an all-white fukubukuro.
It was possible to choose between type A and B. It’s basically the coat’s model that is different… but each coat comes in 4 different colors, so you know the coat’s model but not the color.
I was actually very happy with what I got ! Only one white shirt, which I can wear at home. From what I found online, other buyers were also happy. People usually post comments and pictures online, and it’s a good reference for the next year. I bet a lot of people will buy the Cecil McBee fukubukuro next year, as reviews were quite good.
I decided too late I wanted to buy another one from another brand, franche lippée (yes, if you know French, that’s an extremely weird name). The store opened at 10AM this morning and I was there at 9:30 to find out that they decided to open earlier. The crowd rushing into the store was quite a sight… Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it and left the store pretty frustrated. Next year, I’m ordering everything online for sure !
The coveted item which I couldn’t get. (the white one was still available, but I didn’t want to take the risk to get frilly white blouses and dresses…)
I saw many very weird people while waiting at the store… some people seem to buy just every fukubukuro they can find, no matter the brand. Some ladies were carrying as many as five big bags and it was only 10AM ! Fukubukuro hunters are pretty scary. But it’s fun ! ^^