New Years: the first day of the New Years is basically the Black Friday of Japan. Shopping centers will be packed full of people.
Some places will have specials or good deals. Others will have fukubukuro 福袋– lucky bags. The bags are a set price (ranging from 1000yen up to several 10,000 yen) and usually include items with higher total value. Sometimes you know exactly what you are getting and all the bags will show what is inside. Other times, it is fairly random as to what exactly you might end up with.
I typically purchase clothing lucky bags; usually the sets are coordinated so there is no thinking, you have a few combinations of new outfits making shopping a breeze. For someone like me, this is absolutely perfect. I might not always love the color, but it forces me to vary up my wardrobe a bit (otherwise everything I buy is blue or brown). I admit, I love the cuteness of Axes Femme, and was able to get in line to purchase one last year. We got a choice between 2 types of bags, 1 was a coordinated set (I bought this one) and the other was a combination of clothing items; each bag is usually pretty unique.
I also like to purchase a lucky bag from a clothing store called Joshua. This one is filled fairly randomly, but comes with some tops, cardigan or sweater, bottoms (either pants or skirt) and small accessories, and if you buy the more expensive one it includes a coat and shoes. The strategy for choosing these types of lucky bags is to look at the store the weeks/months beforehand… do you like the type of clothes they sell, are they your style? Then go for it, if anything you can try some new things. Often times, this is a chance for stores to clear out inventory in preparation for new styles in the upcoming season.
SanA malls in Okinawa also have a deal for the first hundreds of customers; starting at 9am, they sell a gift card (attached to your SanA point card) that you purchase for 30,000yen but you receive a bonus 3,000 yen– a total of 33,000yen good for all the shops and restaurants at any SanA. Believe it or not, this is actually easy to get if you show up by 9am and the line is not very long at all.
Many types of stores and even food shops like Kaldi and MisDo sell these types of fukubukuro. From electronics, to home goods, to clothes, to designer items, to specialty food items or wine/liquor, these types of bags are sold.
After the New Year, perhaps I will post photos of the lucky bags I purchase.