Fukubukuro 福袋, a hundred years tradition
Japanese Fukubukuro 福袋, is a tradition started 100 Years ago. It’s unclear how exactly the Fukubukuro originated – there are multiple stories told – but one version says they were sold as early the 1900s when department stores started cropping up in Japan. The oldest legends of the bag could go back to the Edo era (1603 – 1868) when Echigoya, the early incarnation of Mitsukoshi, started packing and selling the lucky bags.
Sales for Fukubukuro open every year on 1 January, and they’re typically sold across the first 3 days of January, or until they run out. During the sales period, thousands of people in Japan queue up for hours to get their hand on them, as they are usually sold only in limited amounts. For many, it isn’t the new year without a Fukubukuro.
Fukubukuro means a lucky bag. These “lucky bags” are basically mystery goodie bags that you have no idea of the contents before purchase, that contain anything from clothes to food, depending on the store selling them. The contents of the bag would usually be anywhere from slightly to significantly more expensive if you were to buy each item separately.
To Japanese, buying a Fukubukuro is a bit like gambling. It’s the excitement of not knowing what’s inside them, and also the chance at getting something cheaper than its actual cost that create its attraction to a lot of people.
Even restaurants and cafes are now selling Fukubukuro bags. Recently, certain shops have actually added the option to book a bag online – so people can pick it up at an outlet of their choice in a civilised manner.
How will Fukubukuro eventually evolve into? We won’t know. But for sure, it will always something relate to joys. 🙂
Photo source: Muji Fukubukuro 2020 promotion website
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