Fukubukuro – a very Japanese new years tradition

New year holidays in Japan are one of a kind. While it comes with many traditions, a couple of new ones have established in the commercial age we now live in. It is therefore no surprise, that the new year start with the biggest sale of the same. Stores usually offer many things with huge discounts, often around 30 to 40%, but also 70% and above are not seldom. You can probably call it a clearance sale.
Most of the people in Japan have some free time around new year, hence the malls and shopping districts are tightly packed. Yesterday Ben and I went to the mall in Uchihara also taking part in this new tradition. The mall was crowded; not Tokyo crowded, but still sometimes hard to set one foot in front of the other without bumping into people. The food court and the restaurants were also tightly packed with long waiting lines and no free tables. Even the McDonald’s was so crowded, that they started to take orders from within the line. As we were not that hungry, we decided to not wait for an hour to get some food, but continue our shopping ventures.
Since I’ve been looking for a new purse (wallet) for over half a year now, I decided to not leave the place without one. Spoiler: My new wallet is orange.
As a secondary goal I wanted to get a Fukubukuro. They are only sold during the new year holidays and the name translates to lucky bag or mystery bag. There are many different available as most of the different stores offer then. Sometimes they start as low as 1000¥, but the price can go up to 100000¥ or higher. The most expensive ones usually come from fancy clothing stores or electronic stores and they can contain even something as big as a computer or television. I was focusing on toys and similar entertaining products, but eventually have up.
The day before I went to Mito station to get one from the Ghibli store, but when I arrived they were already gone.
The special treat of these bags is, that they often come at a great value, but with the downside that you don’t really know what’s inside. Lately the spoiler Fukubukuro are on the rise, so you really know what’s in there, but that’s taking a bit of the fun out of the equation; and of course the mystery.
I personally prefer the ones that have a theme, but the contents is still a surprise. For the sake of this post, I finally bought one at the import-export-store Jupiter at Mito station. It cost only a thousand yen and goods were promised to be north of 1500¥. And since it sells only imported foods, I was pretty sure I’ll get something I like. The bag itself looks all but spectacular.

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I was not let down with my assumption, some of the items did not make it through the night. The moment I opened it I thought I should have gotten two. That’s the thing though, you never know.

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We finished yesterday’s shopping trip with a nice Indian meal at the station. So all in all, it was a nice experience – and I finally got a new purse.

Today I decided to not just stay in my room, but walk around a bit. I would lie if I pretended to not know that I was going for shopping seconds.
During my stay in Japan I developed a few rather unhealthy obsessions, one of them is buying stuff with a teddy bear named Rilakkuma on it, another one is buying Nanoblocks – the Japanese version of tiny Lego. But that’s something for a different post. I went to the big shopping centre in the middle of Mito, Keisei. I thought starting the year and ending the holiday with some awesome Japanese food would be right along my ally.
While I was there I also checked the other stores to see what kind of goody bags they offer. Suffice to say that a big, fat European would not going in any of those clothes offered in the Fukubukuro of those stores. I went on to see if I can get a bag of toys, but eventually have up to find anything there. Apart from the food, I did not want to leave empty handed, so I bought a set of Nanoblocks I had my eye on for a long time now. At least I got some fresh air…
On my way back I decided to give shopping another go, and since my beard trimmer list his will to perform, I can even pretend to have a reason to do so. So I took a detour to include Mega DonQuihote on the way. There I found a trimmer at half price, so I can call that a success.
I also got a spoiler Fukubukuro with items for mobile phones and tablets. Nothing I really needed, but I was in a spending mood.

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I guess the coolest thing in that bag is actually that mini selfish stick (one of there rare cases of correct autocorrect – pin intended). The stand is also quite cool, as I always lose track of my phone at work. What I am doing with the rest, I have no idea.

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I got a happy box with Snoopy items, too. I’m not a huge fan, but it looked funny and I still had some money left.

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It contained items you can always use, like a ruler, a rubber (eraser), some pencils, and a folder with magic 3D effects, which freaked me out the first time I saw it since I was not expecting it.
This box indeed made me quite happy.
It was a little bit tiring walk back home, since the bags got heavy the longer I had to carry them. It’s not time to eat my funky sushi and call it a night.
I can’t promise that this will be the last new years post, but it could be. So for (probably) one final time: happy new year.


 

I recently found quite a pleasant marketing app, called Ms. Green. It explains Japanese sights and traditions in manga style. It is free and I can highly recommend it. For short bus trips, it has been a fun pastime and an inspiration. You can check out a manga about Fukubukuru at insight.japantoday.com.

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