Fukubukuro- “lucky bag” shopping, 2016

Another new year in Japan, means another stab at fukubukuro, or lucky bag shopping! The gist of fukubukuro is heading to the mall on New Year’s Day, and buying a bag with unknown contents for a set price. The contents of the bag are a mystery, but are guaranteed to be worth more than you paid. It’s such a fun custom, and always a gamble!

We like to arrive early, because the good bags have been known to sell out fast. And as soon as the mall doors open, it’s a mad dash to your favorite store!

Most stores have bags at different price points, to further entice you.

The girls really love all the excitement too!

Starbucks is one of the most popular bags to buy. I’ve heard they have several drink gift cards, mugs, and bags of coffee. But since I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I’ve never waited in line for this bag. You can see the line forming all the way down the mall hallway!

The girls very carefully weighed their options this year. I told them they could each choose a bag that was Y1,000 ($8.00) or less.

And here we are with our purchases, ready to open! Anticipation and excitement are always high, just like Christmas morning!

Eva chose a bag from Kiddyland, one of her favorite stores.

For Y500 ($4.00) she got loads of hair accessories, which is what she was hoping for. Eva rated her experience very highly.

And Ella went with the bag from Fancy Pocket, she especially liked the cute bag it came in. Cute packaging gets me every time, too!

Ella’s bag cost Y800 ($6.00), which had a bracelet, a few hair accessories, and don’t forget the cute bag! She was somewhat pleased with the purchase, but said she won’t use the hair accessories. You win some, you lose some!

Now, on to my purchases. I got this bag from my favorite Japanese goods store and paid Y5,000 (about $42). I got a Sasicco woven bag (worth $60 alone), bath salts, leather book cover, umbrella (worth $10 alone), two washcloths, woven scarf, coin purse, and skin care set. So, I’d say I probably got double the value on this bag and found the stuff to be useful. So far, so good.

My next bag, I had much more mixed feelings about. I went back to the kitchen store where I had so much luck last year, and this year? Not so much. I paid Y3,000 (about $25) and got; two linen place mats, two insulated mugs that are much too small to be of any use, two wooden platters, which are the only redeeming items in this bag, and a small fondue set. Huge disappointment.

On to my last bag. Another bag at the same kitchen store had the OXO logo, which I thought might be a good bag because I like their products. It cost Y3,000 (about $25) and was full of very practical, useful items; a scrub brush, three food storage containers (two of which have a special lid to keep liquids from spilling), and a small herb/salad spinner. At least these were items that I will use, so I was overall happy with this bag.

So, as it goes with gambling, you win some you lose some. But even though most of these items are not things that I would walk into the store and buy, we have had so much fun with this custom. I’m sure there will never be a New Year’s Day in the future that we don’t fondly talk about fukubukuro, disappointments and all.


  1. Pamela Cole
    January 23, 2016 / 1:45 pm

    I love this! Sounds like a blast! Have you done it every year?

  2. Amara
    January 25, 2016 / 5:20 am

    I guess it has to do with your personal taste too. I don't know, I think I'd get too nervous about losing out! I'm not the best risk taker 😀

  3. Laura
    February 2, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    This is just so much fun! Wish it was done here!

  4. Erica
    February 4, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    I love this custom!!! I'm sure the thrill of it all is right up Ella's alley. Overall, it looked like a win. But I'd get SO anxious about being disappointed. Love this – I'll miss reading about it next year :/

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