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Our reporter, Mr. Tashiro, is a man of great patience. He waited in front of the Shibuya Apple Store from December 25th until January 2nd in order to be the first one in line to purchase the 2013 Apple fukubukoro.  Also known as “lucky bags”, fukubukuro are bags filled with mystery items that are sold at a fixed price at the beginning of each year. It’s a clever way for stores to get rid of excess merchandise, but if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll score a great deal on items that far exceed the price you paid

Hoping to score a MacBook Air for 33,000 yen (US $377 and the price of this year’s Apple fukubukoro), Mr. Tashiro spent eight freezing days in front of the Apple store and gave up his Christmas and New Year’s for a chance to snag a grand prize lucky bag.

This year, there are three types of Apple lucky bags. The grand prize bag contains a MacBook Air, the second place bag contains an iPad and the last bag contains an iPod (this could almost be considered a consolation prize).

Mr. Tashiro kept reassuring himself that it would all be worth it in the end, thinking, “Since I waited in line for eight days straight and I am the first person in line, my efforts are sure to be rewarded.”


■ No MacBook Air!?

Despite waiting in the intense cold for eight days and being the first person in line, Mr. Tashiro’s lucky bag didn’t contain a MacBook Air…it didn’t even contain an iPad. No, for all his efforts, Mr. Tashiro was rewarded with a measly iPod nano.

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▲  Mr. Tashiro’s “efforts” in action.

■ “…but I thought if I was first in line, I was guaranteed to get the grand prize lucky bag.”

Mr. Tashiro can’t remember who told him, but he heard (and believed) a rumor that if you are first in line, you will definitely get a MacBook Air lucky bag. This prompted him to celebrate Christmas and ring in the new year in front of the Apple Store. While he was waiting, it wasn’t quite cold enough to snow, but eight days in near-freezing temperatures in the middle of Shibuya is a little extreme.

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▲  Shibuya, sh-sh-shibuya, ROLL CALL!

■ Other people started lining up on January 1st

Mr. Tashiro camped out in front of the Shibuya Apple store and faced the winter winds with his trusty fold-up chair and sleeping bag. It isn’t unusual for people to be seen camping out infront of Apple stores (people all over the world have done it), but waiting outside for eight days in the middle of winter is borderline crazy. From Christmas Day all the way until New Year’s Eve, there were no signs of anyone even thinking about lining up. Finally, on New Year’s Day, a second person joined the line.

■ The Apple Geniuses Talk to Mr. Tashiro

During his stay at the Apple store, the Apple geniuses chatted with Mr. Tashiro on several occasions. They talked about how the lucky bags would be given out (among other things) and the geniuses asked for permission to use a picture of Mr. Tashiro standing in line. Whenever an Apple employee struck up a conversation, Mr. Tashiro was sure to throw out clever hints and constantly said things like “I really want a new computer…it would be great if I got a MacBook Air!”

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▲ January 2nd, lucky bags on sale. The line has grown considerably longer…

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▲Mr. Tashiro at the head of the line.

■ “I can’t believe it!”

At eight in the morning, the store opened to a crowd of cheering Apple fans and employees. As soon as the doors opened, Mr. Tashiro sprinted to the fukubukuro booth on the second floor. Five minutes later, he descended the Apple store stairs with a bitter smile. “I can’t believe it!” he smirked.

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▲Mr. Tashiro throws his hands in the air in glee as he finally enters the Apple store to purchase his lucky bag.

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▲   Whee!!! I have no life!

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▲  He emerges from the Apple store, lucky bag in tow.

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▲ A first glimpse.

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▲ “$%&#!

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▲ Friends come to compare their lucky bag haul.

■ The contents of Mr. Tashiro’s lucky bag:


Extra Battery

Wireless Speaker

Armband (for iPod Nano)

16g iPod Nano



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■ THE KICKER: The second person in line got a MacBook Air

Mr. Tashiro, who waited in line since December 25th, didn’t receive a grand prize lucky bag containing a MacBookAir, but the second person in line, who waited in line since January 1st, did. Oh the irony!

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▲ “$%&#!

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■ “I just want to go home already”

With a haggard expression and glassy eyes, Mr. Tashiro reasoned with himself: “I like the Acer that I already have and I probably wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to use a MacBook Air. Plus, since it’s cold outside, I’m glad I got a T-shirt…and to top it all off, the list price of the headphones are around 30,000 yen (US $343), so I’m glad I got this lucky bag.”

When asked if he would be lining up in front of the Apple store next year, Mr. Tashiro sighed, “Please let me go home. I just want to go home already.” Only until he’s had a shower, a good night’s rest and a full meal will Mr. Tashiro even begin to reflect on his actions (and possibly come up with a plan for next year). The only thing that is certain is that he was in a state of complete shock and exhaustion as of 8:05am on the second day of January.

Happy New Year, Mr. Tashiro!

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[ Read in Japanese ]