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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogLucky Bag for the New Year: The Ultimate Fukubukuro Guide!

Lucky Bag for the New Year: The Ultimate Fukubukuro Guide!

Devon Lord-MoncriefDevon Lord-Moncrief
Published Time
Posted on 
December 28, 2023
A lucky bag or fukubukuro, next to a kagami, bamboo and fan figurine.

Everyone loves getting a good deal. What makes getting a good deal even better is getting an entire bag’s worth of good deals with a sprinkle of mystery. If all that sounds appealing, then rejoice! A fukubukuro is the ideal gift for you! Also known as a “lucky bag”, fukubukuro are Japan’s version of Black Friday deals. 

Retailers fill mystery bags with tons of end-of-year stock and mark them down to clear space. Fukubukuro are a big deal in Japan, drawing countless hopeful customers yearly. Read on to learn more about the history of fukubukuro and some great places to hit up for the New Year!

When was the first fukubukuro sale?

Fukubukuro are nothing new in Japan, and the custom dates back many years. There are so many years that the first mention of fukubukuro dates back to the Edo period between 1603 and 1867. Sources state that the first store to adopt the sale was a kimono shop called Echigoya in Tokyo. 

Two full fukubukuro at a department store.
Fukubukuro sales are similar to Black Friday. Image via Tokyo Cheapo

The shop decided that selling fabric by the bagful at lower prices was a good practice, and as the popularity of the sales surged, other stores across the country began to offer them, too. As a result, fukubukuro was born, and people are still saving tons of money today because of it!

Why do stores sell fukubukuro?

Like many things in Japan, fukubukuro has become rooted in tradition and superstition. It is believed that a person should refrain from entering the new year with unnecessary baggage, belongings, and bad luck. Retailers also shed off their unnecessary stock as people relieve themselves of this baggage and negative energy.

A lucky bag full of food items.
Items range from food to clothing! Image via Iemone

Generally, people believe it’s good luck to clear out as much leftover stock before entering the new year, and as such, retailers bag up all of their excess backstock and sell it off at discount prices. Everyone wins with these end-of-year sales: retailers clear up space, customers get amazing deals, and everyone basks in the good luck for January!

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Where can I buy fukubukuro?

Almost every retailer in Japan takes part in fukubukuro sales. Whether you’re looking for clothes, jewelry, electronics, home goods, or anything else, there’s probably a fukubukuro sale. You can visit these stores in Japan if you want to buy a lucky bag, but you’ll have to be quick as some bags are incredibly popular, making them difficult to get.

Muji

The Muji store.
Muji is a store that focuses on product quality rather than flashy displays! Image via Shutterstock

Muji is a massive retailer in Japan and very popular. It excels in clothing, home goods, and travel wares, making it an excellent store to check out for most needs. Oddly enough, Muji doesn’t offer traditional fukubukuro but instead offers “lucky cans”. In previous years, these lucky cans contain charms, talismans, and gift cards. This can be very exciting or disappointing, depending on what you expect from a lucky bag/can.

Uniqlo

Uniqlo is a clothing retailer with chains all over the world. Not only does Uniqlo offer fashionable and trendy clothing, but they also often team up with various companies for fantastic cross-over-themed events.

The outside of Uniqlo.
Uniqlo has some of the best and most affordable fashion in the world! Image via Shutterstock

The lucky bags from Uniqlo are always in hot demand, with last year’s fukubukuro event ending up with gigantic lines over an hour long at some retailers. Common items include T-shirts, clothing, coupons and vouchers, keychains, and other exclusive content.

Yodobashi Camera

Yodobashi Camera is an electronics retailer that sells electronic goods of all kinds. Demand for their lucky bags is so cutthroat that customers are only able to get one if they apply via an online lottery, and even then, the odds are pretty slim.

Yodobashi Camera at night.
Yodobashi Camera is a popular electronics chain! Image via Shutterstock

But for those that luck out, Yodobashi Camera offers fantastic products inside their various lucky bags. Facial cleansing machines, neck massagers, toothbrushes, and more are included in their bags. Some bags are so heavy that it might even take two people to carry them!

Why should I buy a fukubukuro?

Fukubukuro is an immensely popular sales event in Japan that can’t be missed. While customers are taking a roll of the dice when they buy a mystery bag, they’ll likely want and need what’s inside. With the sheer variety of retailers that offer them and the various tiers of bags they can buy, lucky bags are more than just discounted piles of last year’s unwanted stock. 

A bunch of lucky bag miniatures in a shopping cart of the same size.
What fukubukuro would you like to buy for the New Year? Image via NetShop Soken

They are cost-efficient means of ensuring that no product is wasted and everyone can get what they want for the year. The history of fukubukuro dates back a few hundred years, and considering how popular it is today, it doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon.

Have you got a lucky bag before? If so, which one did you get, and where did you get it from? Did you get what you hoped for, or was it full of other cool stuff? Please tell us in the comments below! We’d love to hear about your fukubukuro grab bags!

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