Japanese stores offer big bargains in lucky bags

January 5th, 2012By Category: Shopping

Young girls swarm into Shibuya's 109 store.

Every New Year, stores across Japan start the business year with huge bargain sales, featuring “fukubukuro” (lucky bags). You never know what you are going to find in the bags, but the value of the items is usually twice the price of the lucky bag … well, it is supposed to be.

GaijinPot was on hand at the mega-popular Shibuya 109 store on Jan 2 to see the mad rush of shoppers. Thousands of young girls swarmed into the store throughout the day. Several hundred, including some as young as 14, waited in line from as early as 6 a.m. The store is holding a one-week sale with discounts of up to 80%.

Outside the store, girls set up a mini-market to swap unwanted items with other shoppers.

This year, many stores revealed in advance the content of some of their bags to reflect the aftermath of last year’s March 11 disaster. Some stores offered 10,000-yen bags, for example, filled with raincoats, backpacks and other goods useful for volunteer work.

An official with the Seibu Department store in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro area said that they decided to include the items after hearing feedback from volunteers in the tsunami-stricken Tohoku area.

A Ginza department store included heat packs in some bags to help consumers get through the cold winter, in light of power conservation measures. Other items to be included in bags are survival food and flashlights.

Girls swap unwanted items outside 109.

Many department stores included some surprise luxury items in some of their bags, including hotel suite vouchers for use near the soon-to-be-completed Tokyo Sky Tree. Officials say they hope to help people relieve stress built up over the months following the disaster with these unexpected treats.

And for the super-rich, one department store in Kofu, a city 100 kilometers west of Tokyo, is selling a “fukubukuro” worth 20 million yen. Inside are  platinum rings featuring a 3.13-carat emerald and a 79.20-carat tourmaline, both glittering with diamonds, and a pendant with a 172.53-carat aquamarine, which would normally sell for 50 million yen. So if you are in the  Okajima Department Store in Kofu, check it out.

New Year sales continue at most stores until Jan 9 or 15. See list here.

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GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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