Today I wanted to get up early (hence the going to bed a bit early yesterday) for another Japanese tradition; fukubukuro. It is a tradition of ‘lucky bags’, sold by all kinds of stores, filled with items from the store. The price you pay for the bag is often just around 30% or even less of the total price of all items inside, according to the pricetags. There is just one catch to this seemingly perfect deal; the bags are sealed and you can’t take a look inside a bag before you buy it. So you basically buy things with a huge discount, but you don’t know what exactly you’re buying.

I’m not sure if this concept would be a success anywhere else, but it definitly is in Japan. People get up early or just stay up all night to queue for specific stores and some very popular fukubukuro, like the one from the Apple store, sell out quickly. You can buy fukubukuro filled with all kinds of items, from electronics to food/candy and even pet accesoiries.

The bags are usally piled in front of a store. There often is someone (or several people) from the store’s staff next to the pile of bags, shouting that you should buy one. If you buy too much to carry, there sometimes is a boxing and shipping service in front of the department store. Some people already open their bags and try to trade the items they don’t like with other shoppers. The whole thing is a very amusing event to watch, and even more fun to be part of.

I bought myself a few fukubukuro from clothing stores, which luckily indicate a size on the bag so you at least know that the clothes will fit. My experience is that the items in a lucky bag can actually be quite nice (with some exceptions of course, but that’s also a matter of taste). But even if they aren’t that great, fukubukuro is still a lot of fun and definitly one of my favorite things in Japan!