Lucky pack season is upon us!
It’s that time of year again when the busy stores of Tokyo crank it up a notch, releasing their ever-popular lucky packs! The stores implement huge sale reductions throughout the first week of January as they try to rid themselves of the dregs of their winter stock and prepare for the upcoming spring. However, the most well-known feature of this shopping season is the lucky packs, or fukubukuro in Japanese.
But what are lucky packs exactly?
For many first-timers the concept can be a bit confusing. Essentially, they are an assortment of a store’s goods put together in a bag and sold at a heavily reduced price. Sometimes these goods are randomized, sometimes carefully selected. More often than not, the bag’s contents are worth more than the price of the pack, and, as a result, are extremely sought-after.
It may not be as well-known outside of Japan, but Japanese New Year is similar to the USA’s Black Friday sales. The bargain-hunting masses will soon be descending upon the shops in droves as they fight one another to the cash register. In the chilly air of the winter morning, people queue for hours outside of shopping malls and department stores in the hopes of getting their hands on the once-a-year limited bargains and assorted packs.
One of the things to be aware of is that every store sells their lucky packs a little differently. While some stores simply sell their goods in a canvas or sturdy shopping bag, some stores include have a special deluxe bag as part of the package.
Let’s take the popular young women’s brand “Liz Lisa” as an example.
Their collaboration lucky packs, which feature the character “My Melody” from Sanrio company, are extremely popular. Most years they release a sweet, uniquely-designed suitcase stuffed with an assortment of clothing and randomized goodies. These suitcases are so popular due to their limited amount and unique design, that many people will buy the packs purely to get their hands on the suitcases. Anything in the pack they don’t want, they can try to sell on the secondhand market, or simply give away.
Lucky packs are not just limited to brands like Liz Lisa though. Almost every store from men’s fashion to cosmetics to electronics stores release their own unique packs, and the hunt is part of the fun!
How do I buy a lucky pack?
Lucky pack promotion tends to start in late November, and continues throughout December. The release strategy and release date depend on the brand. Some will release online only, some allow pre-orders, and some in-store only. However, the biggest release conducted by most stores is on the 1st and 2nd January in physical stores.
On these days you will see hundreds of people waiting outside Shibuya 109 at 5am herded into the tunnels weaving underneath the famous Shibuya Scramble, a line of tents camped outside the Apple store throughout the bitter January night, and impatient crowds being handed out pamphlets and handwarmers in Harajuku as they wait for the glass doors of the La Foret shopping mall to finally open.
If you are in any busy shopping area in Japan on the mornings of 1st or 2nd of January, you are likely to be met with a sea of people and noisy shop staff promoting their wares through make-shift megaphones. It’s definitely an experience, one that our shopping service staff have every year as we go to these places and wrestle the crowds.
Of course, lucky packs are Japan-limited and many people outside of Japan are unable to come here to purchase them. That’s where our proxy shopping service comes in handy.
You can buy them through us!
We are accepting reservations from November 18th, 12pm JST for this year’s 2016 lucky packs, so if there is a lucky pack (or various lucky packs) you would like, please submit an order form here from that date/time. Of course, you can inquire before November 18th. We can give you an estimate of costs, and guide you through the process of getting your very own packs of goodies from Japan! In that case, please contact us here. However, please note, reservations will only be accepted from November 18th, 12pm JST.
Please note that reservation slots are limited so get your pre-order in early to ensure you get your lucky pack.
Also, we’ll be closed from 14th – 31st Dec. this year, so any in-store releases cannot be handled during that time. However, we’ll be able to continue with online orders and available to purchase at the biggest sales throughout the 1st week of January.