Japan has many wonderful New Year’s traditions, including visiting the local shrine, eating auspicious food, and sending postcards to all your friends. But one of the most exciting and potentially disappointing activities that occur on the first day of January is the purchasing of fukubukuro. Commonly referred to as “Lucky Bags” in English, fukubukoro are specially priced parcels of surplus items from popular stores across Japan that are usually valued well over the purchase price.

This year, we sent 10 of our Japanese reporters out on the streets early New Year’s morning to gather up the best Lucky Bags they could find. Some came back with somewhat useless products even Mr. Sato wouldn’t want. Other’s were pleasantly surprised to find rare and valuable items nestled in their bags. But despite deep discounts, Lucky Bags aren’t always worth the wait and price, so in order to save you time on next year’s Japanese New Year’s shopping adventures, each of our writers has chosen the best Lucky Bags this side of the Pacific.

Store: Okashi no Machioka
Reporter: P.K. Sanjun


As it turns out, our reporter P.K. Sanjun turned up with eight Lucky Bags this year, all of them food-related. His pick for the best food buy goes to candy store, Okashi no Machioka. Here’s what he had to say about his sweet purchase:

“The price was an easy-to-swallow 1,000 yen (US$8.37), and the bag contains so much candy that you’re sure to be genuinely delighted upon opening it up. All the candy was from famous confectionery makers and there was a lot of it! — it didn’t feel as if they just threw a bunch of leftover candy in a bag. I definitely recommend it for first-time Lucky Bag buyers!”

Store: LUSH
Reporter: DEBUNEKO


Collecting an impressive 10 Lucky Bags in a single day, our reporter DEBUNEKO was so enthusiastic about her task that our editing staff was a little worried she’d hyperventilate. As she excitedly unveiled all of her mystery items, we managed to calm her down long enough for her to tell us about her favorite Lucky Bag. It turns out she absolutely loved the cosmetics she got from LUSH Kitchen, especially the body soap with a real slice of lemon inside. Sorry DEBUNEKO, despite your immense love of Lucky Bags, you’re just going to have to wait an entire year to get some more.

Store: D.A.D
Reporter: Nakano


Always a fan of the luxurious, Nakano, our top batter during our Lucky Bag collecting efforts, came away with a grand total of nine fukubukuro. He refused to give us a reason for loving his D.A.D Lucky Bag the most, but he seems to think that it’s worth one million yen (roughly $8,000). Well, if he’s happy, we’re happy!

Store: Muji
Reporter: Sachi Ojiya


Invigorated by the Lucky Bag hunt, Sachi’s top purchase (out of a total of four bags) was from Muji, Japan’s favorite no-frills home goods store. (It turns out Muji was selling more of a “Fortune Can” than a Lucky Bag this year.)

“The great thing about the Muji Fortune Can is that there wasn’t anything in there that I didn’t want. The traditional ornament, the lovely little bag, the gift card that is the same value as the retail price of the can – I was glad to get them all! What’s more, you don’t know exactly what ornament you’re going to get until you open up the can, so the mystery factor is still there.”

Store: Apple
Reporter: Mr. Sato


You can’t have an Apple Store event without Mr. Sato. Naturally, our most outlandish reporter camped out overnight for his chance to get a MacBook Air or iPad in his Lucky Bag. But after all that waiting, he unfortunately came up short.

However, after rushing back to the RocketNews24 office, Mr. Sato was extremely happy with what he did get: Powerbeats² wireless earphones valued at 20,600 yen ($170.98). In fact, he was so pleased with his Lucky Bag purchase, he placed his new Beats in his ear, mumbled, “right, I’m off,” and immediately went home.

Store: Tully’s Coffee (3,000 yen bag)
Reporter: Meg Sawai


There were a lot of coffee Lucky Bags this year, and Meg managed to get her hands on a few of them. Lucky she decided to stop by Tully’s because it just so happens to be the company with the best coffee Lucky Bag in all of Japan.

Store: :(
Reporter: Yuuichiro Wasai


The Lucky Bag gods did not shine on Yuuichiro, who came away from the New Year’s festivities a broken man. He had his heart set on nothing less than a MacBook Air hidden in his Apple Lucky Bag, but only received an iPod touch. He did, however, get a limited edition laptop backpack, which he has poured his heart and soul into loving in the face of his disappointment. There, there, young Yuuichiro. There’s always next year.

Store: UFO Catcher
Reporter: Yoshio


We created a RocketNews24 Lucky Bag chat room so all of our writers could stay in touch with their fellow Lucky Bag hunters. We had intended it to be a way to keep all of our team members going strong, offering each other moral support, but it turned into more of a virtual battleground filled with gruesome tales of Lucky Bag victories and losses. Reading about all the action in our chat room, Yoshio decided he’d try his hand at procuring the best Lucky Bag he could think of.

While the rest of our writers were scouring the most popular department stores, Yoshio made his way to the nearest game center, a strange choice. Well, 6,400 yen ($53) later, he finally coaxed two Lucky Bags out of a crane game. We’ll let you decide if it was worth it, but at least Yoshio went through the trouble of taking plenty of pictures for us…

Store: LOFT
Reporter: GO


GO managed to collect eight Lucky Bags in total, not too shabby. As he was rushing around department store 109MEN’S, snatching up any Lucky Bag he could get his hands on (including a cute Hello Kitty one), he had a brief moment of self reflection, thinking, “What the heck am I doing?” As he wondered what his mother would think, GO ripped open a Lucky Bag from LOFT. Peering into the bag, he saw a white cushion with the word “JOY” embroidered on the front. Hesitating for just a few moments, GO sat upon his newly procured cushion and a wave of calm came over him. As the soft fabric hugged his weary bottom, GO was at peace with himself and his ridiculous endeavor of Lucky Bag buying. It was fate.


Store: Chojyu no Sato
Reporter: Muneyake Sunday


Amongst the chatter on our Lucky Bag chat room, one message immediately stood out: “Um, I accidentally bought something…is that alright?” The first RocketNews24 mistake of the year came from Muneyake Sunday, whose only mission was to buy a Lucky Bag from Japanese cosmetics brand DHC (this woman holds a doctorate in Russia, ladies and gentlemen). What she came back with instead were products from the store next to DHC, Chojyu no Sato. It turns out Muneyake Sunday received a lot of goodies in her mistakenly bought Lucky Bag and we all got a good laugh, so we’d say she was successful in her endeavor.

And with that, we’ve finished our Lucky Bag Roundup for 2015! Check back next year for even more fukubukuro action and hopefully a MacBook Air for poor Yuuichiro!

Photos: RocketNews24