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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogLucky Bags for the New Year: Fukubukuro Madness!

Lucky Bags for the New Year: Fukubukuro Madness!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
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January 25, 2023
A shot of lucky bags, or fukubukuro, in red boxes surrounded by New Year's paraphernalia.

At the end of each year, everyone is busy at work and home preparing for a prosperous year. However, many Japanese people still need to remember to find good fortunes by visiting shops to buy themselves exclusively lucky bags – fukubukuro!

These lucky bags always contain many exciting items! Therefore, let’s take a closer look at their meanings and origins and discover the best fukubukuro this year!

What is Fukubukuro?

In the word “fukubukuro,” “fuku” means good luck, and “bukuro” means bag, so putting them together gives us a lucky pack! Fukubukuro is available at various stores during the New Year ranging from boutiques to coffee shops. They contain a variety of random items, and most of them are at least 50% off their original price!

A bunch of lucky bags, or fukubukuro, lined up and ready for sale at a local mall.
Fukubukuro sales are similar to Black Friday in the States! Image via Shutterstock

The items filled in the bag often have a specific theme depending on the store. Either way, buying Japanese fukubukuro has become one of many Japanese annual traditional customs. This tradition is because Japanese people believe there is always luck in leftovers!

High-end fukubukuro for sale. The stands are red and gold.
Fukubukuro can range from affordable to high-end. Image via Shutterstock

Also, they are confident that purchasing remnants from the last periods will bring them good fortunes. Moreover, most people also find these lucky bags attractive because of the low price and many items inside. Thus, they’re becoming more and more popular in Japan!

A bunch of people perusing large blue Adidas lucky bags for the New Year.
Even athletic gear is up for grabs during the New Year! Image via Shutterstock

For sellers, selling fukubukuro reduces their inventory backlog to make room for new items coming up in the new year!

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The Origin of Fukubukuro

There are many anecdotes about the first fukubukuro, yet none mention that these bags were released specifically for the New Year. According to one tale, Tokyo was the birthplace of the first fukubukuro during the Edo era (1603-1867)!

A picture of a diorama depicting a busy Edo-era street.
The lucky bags custom began during the Edo era. Image via Shutterstock

The merchants of a kimono store in Echigoya came up with the idea to create mystery bags with various kimono materials at discounted prices. Then, these lucky bags were so popular that many merchants of the entire town started imitating them and, subsequently, the rest of the nation!

A table of colorful Japanese kimono obi sashes.
The first fukubukuro lucky bags sold kimono materials. Image via Shutterstock

However, another story claimed that the first fukubukuro originated in the Ginza Matsuya department store sometime in the late Meiji period (about 1912) as an effort to increase sales!

What was this year’s best fukubukuro?

Mos Burger

Mos Burger, one of Japan’s famous fast food brands, also launched lucky bags to welcome the new year. The limited edition fukubukuro for 2023 had a theme of Cinnamoroll, a favorite Sanrio character!

A picture of the Mos Burger storefront. The sign is green with white letters. Recently the store sold lucky bags, or fukubukuro.
Mos Burger is one of Japan’s most famous burger chains. Image via Shutterstock

These unique bags come with four Cinnamoroll goods and seven vouchers (worth 500 yen each) to eat at the Mos Burger chain. The price of one pack is equal to the cost of seven meal vouchers, so customers who buy lucky bags can enjoy their meals at Mos Burger and get many lovely items like mini mirrors or soft blankets!

Kaldi Coffee Farm

If you are a fan of coffee, you should take advantage of lucky bags from Kaldi Coffee Farm. The 2023 fukubukuro collection comes in three types: Popular Coffee Fukubukuro, Luxury Coffee Fukubukuro, and Popular Drip Coffee Set. 

A picture of the Kaldi Coffee Farm storefront. The sign is blue and the letters are yellow.
Kaldi Coffee Farm is a popular chain in Japan that sells artisan coffee and gourmet groceries! Image via Shutterstock

Although the content inside each type is different, these lucky bags contain delicious and high-quality coffees such as Blue Mountain Blend, Mocha Matari, and Zodiac Coffee Kenya Kiandu City Roast. This fukubukuro is a fantastic opportunity to get some good deals on coffee!

Mister Donut

One of Japan’s best fukubukuro of 2023 comes from another famous food brand, Mister Donut!

A picture of the Mister donut storefront The sign is brown and the letters are red with white outlines.
Mister Donut is Japan’s flagship donut chain! Image via Shutterstock

There are three tiers of fukubukuro this year for the price: 2400-yen ($18) bags, 3600-yen ($28) bags, and 5900-yen ($45) bags. Like Mos Burger, customers who purchase this donut brand’s lucky bags will receive a lot of donut coupons and a variety of cute Pokemon goodies such as tote bags, schedule books, memo pads, and bath towels!

If you like Black Friday in the West, you’ll definitely enjoy fukubukuro in Japan on New Year’s! There are so many opportunities to get exclusive, fantastic items for an affordable price! What kind of fukubukuro would you buy if you had a chance? Let us know in the comments below!

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