The objects referred to as fukubukuro are alternatively described in English as a mystery package (with a variety of articles possibly worth more than the purchase price); grab bag; lucky-dip bag; and New Year's gift bag. They generally go on sale at Japan's department stores and at some other types of retailers from around the year-end.
At certain stores, hatsuuri (early sales) have already begun.
In its weekly "In-depth Business Report," Shukan Jitsuwa (Nov 24) takes a look at some of the items that await purchasers willing to try their luck this year.
First, Takashimaya, if you can believe it, plans to offer a "tiny house" -- a steel-reinforced concrete edifice selling for ¥3.3 million.
"Its total floorspace is about 10 square meters, but to set it up you'll need a lot of about 30 square meters," said a source familiar with retailing and distribution. "Actually, it could better be described as an 'amazing house,' produced using a 3D printer."
The product was designed through collaboration between Takashimaya and Serendix, a specialist homebuilder.
In appearance, the house may be said to resemble a spherical cocoon. It is claimed to be ideal for such activities as "glamping" (a portmanteau of "glamorous" and "camping") or remote work. Apart from laying down the foundation, it's claimed it can be set up within a single working day.
Takashima only plans to offer one of these houses, and if a large number customers apply, it will be sold via a drawing.
A management consultant explains why retailers have begun offering all kinds of unorthodox items for their fukubukuro this year.
"At present, the main topic on people's minds is the devalued yen currency and price increases," he said. "Next year, Serendix is already planning to launch sales of a 1LDK (living-dining-kitchen) single unit house, produced by 3D printer, to be priced around ¥5 million. With rising prices for new houses as well as apartments, Takashimaya has aimed at bucking the price trend using a 3D printer, while at the same time coming up with an outstanding attention-getter. For them, it's a win-win situation."
Meanwhile, Matsuya department store in Ginza is offering snazzy accommodations in a luxurious condominium in Honolulu at the price of ¥202,300, including tax.
"The winner will have to arrange their own airfare, but they'll be able to stay seven days and five nights," a travel advisor tells the magazine. "Matsuya's set also includes a carry-on travel bags and aloha shirts. It's a terrific deal for only ¥200,000."
Matsuya is also offering other bargains, like a 2-carat diamond that was procured by the store prior to the yen's drop in value.
"In the current market it would run about ¥12 million, but packaged as a fukubukuro it is priced at ¥5.5 million -- less than half," said a source in the jewelry trade. "Only one is being offered, but it's attracted a lot of attention."
While price inflation currently ranks at the top of consumer concerns, another trend that the fukubukuro are expected to reflect is the cautious emergence from the COVID pandemic. Hence, Seibu department store has adopted for its the catch phrase, "Let's celebrate the reopening (or getting together) again." As a department store buyer explains, "For couples forced to postpone their wedding, fukubukuro at Seibu/Sogo stores are being readied that reflect tasty foods."
One example from Seibu will be two cuts of prime bluefin tuna from the Tsugaru Strait, weighing one kilogram in total, to be priced at ¥54,000. (Limited to three sets.)
Tobu department store in Ikebukuro will be offering an unusual "subscription fukubukuro," which, for a one-time outlay of ¥20,230 (note the numbers corresponding to 2023), purchasers will receive a set of seasonal fruits for six months, with each set valued at ¥10,800. A similar deal offering high-grade beef is priced at ¥30,000.
As the aforementioned store buyer put it, "Before the wave of price increases, fukubukuro with garments and sundry items had been popular, but in the year to come, the emphasis will be on food. This further serves as evidence that people are concerned with their financial circumstances."© Japan Today