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Feeling Lucky?

The Listen Flavor sales staff working hard to move the special New Year’s backpacks filled with mystery goods

January 2nd used to be known as one of the few times the public was allowed behind the walls of the Imperial Palace to see the emperor, but these days you’ll find everyone under 30 jamming the sidewalks of Harajuku in search of Lucky Bags. Lines form outside the most popular stores hours before they open, the shivering stalwarts hoping to grab the merchandise of their dreams for a fraction of the regular price.

Gambling plus bargains – what’s not to like? On fukubukuro day, giant sealed shopping bags are stacked in towers, the goods inside unknown until after you buy, but guaranteed to be worth the amount advertised. The price is usually 75-90% less than regular retail, so squeals of delight from brand devotees come early and often as bags are opened.

And every kind of store gets into the act:

Popular Lolita brands like Angelic Pretty disappear early
If you’re really brave, you can take a chance at the Scary Underwear Store
The doggy clothing boutique had grab bags for every size of pooch
Even the phone store got into the act.

If you’s like to visit Takeshita Street the next time you’re in Tokyo, direction & maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

9 thoughts on “Feeling Lucky? Leave a comment

    • It’s a pretty great idea if there’s a store where basically you like everything they sell, so you’d love whatever is inside, huh? Figuring out what to put in the bags must be a little tricky, though. Can’t be anything with a size, or there’s a chance that it won’t fit!

      • Some stores sort items by size… but some don’t. I’ve ordered Lucky Packs online where the same pack has had things in drastically different sizes. I’m not sure how it’s handled in Japan, but I traded with friends, or sold the ones that didn’t fit online. The mark-down is so good that it’s not hard to sell miss-fitting clothing.

      • Duh, I didn’t even think about selling stuff online until I posted about the grab bag vending machine. That does make the gamble a lot more attractive!

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