There’s one tradition that reminds me of the way Christmas has been transformed into a commercial holiday. Japanese like to buy lucky bags, or fukubukuro, at the start of the year to freshen up their wardrobe or to accessorize a new cell phone. They are offered at really low prices at the expense of choice. Buyers usually have an idea about the contents, but its supposed to be a surprise. Most bags contain small gifty items, but some take it a little far. Most retailers try to get in on the action, and so do automobile dealers and homebuilders. Providing discounts when most Japanese are willing to splurge is a good tactic; I just find it funny that they still call it a lucky bag! I hope they don’t actually wrap the house or car.
Apple is known for making minimal cultural adjustments to its management and marketing strategies abroad, but they offer the hottest lucky bag in Japan. This year’s came with an iPod device and some accessories.
There are bags for all ages. Here are some boys’ and girls’ anime based fukubukuro.
This is a picture I took of two lucky bags, one with a refrigerator and one with a washing machine.