New Year's lucky bags offer usual to offbeat goodies
Shoppers descended on department stores and shopping areas in droves nationwide on Jan. 2, to take advantage of sales and purchase New Year's lucky bags, or "fukubukuro."
This year's lucky bags reflected the recent trend of togetherness with family and friends after the Great East Japan Earthquake. While many of the bags contained warm clothing to help conserve electricity, others were more of a luxury or practical-use item.
At Fujisaki Department Store in the quake-hit city of Sendai, people started lining up before 6 a.m., and the crowd reached about 10,000 when the store opened at 7:45 a.m. The number was about 20 percent higher than in previous years.
"I believe (the larger number of customers) signifies their hope that this year will be a great year for them, bringing them luck," said a store official who was glad to see the large crowds.
Among the more unusual items for lucky bags at Fujisaki Department Store was a trailer home. The mobile structure was offered in two models: a Japanese-made one for 6 million yen ($78,000) and an American-made one for 4 million yen. Both models were about 1.5 million yen cheaper than their regular prices.
A 61-year-old owner of a restaurant in disaster-hit Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, used his warehouse to open a sporting goods store after the March 11 earthquake. He had placed an order for the trailer home lucky bag because, "I have not been allowed to build a building for my shop due to construction restrictions, (but) with the mobile trailer house, I should not have a problem."
At Seibu Ikebukuro department store in Tokyo's Toshima Ward, about 20,000 shoppers formed a line. Among the top selling lucky bags at the store was one with candy and other items, which sold for 1,000 to 3,000 yen.
Hankyu Men's Tokyo in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, a menswear store, offered a Mercedes-Benz sports car lucky bag, along with the privilege to drive the car on a racetrack, for 24.9 million yen. About 10 people applied for the special lucky bag, which was available to just one person.