We go on a journey to find the Holy Grail of beef bowls.

For lovers of beef bowls, Japanese multinational fast food chain Yoshinoya needs no introduction. First established in Japan in 1899, Yoshinoya branches can now be found scattered throughout bustling cities and rural country towns, and these days its popularity has grown to include ready-made canned meals and exclusive collaborations with Pokémon.

The beef bowl giant is so popular that when our Japanese-language reporters sat down to compile this year’s list of must-buy fukubukuro, Yoshinoya sat at the very top of that list. However, after doing some research online, our reporter Seiji Nakazawa failed to find any news of a Yoshinoya fukubukuro, so he contacted the company directly to find out if they would be offering one this year.

A representative from the public relations department told him that they would, in fact, be selling a lucky bag this year, but it would only be sold at one location in all of Japan: at their Tama-Plaza Terrace store in Tokyo’s neighbouring Kanagawa Prefecture.

Excited by his in-the-know discovery, Seiji made the trip to Tama-Plaza Terrace on 2 January, when the bags would go on sale. Although the company rep had told him that the bags would be on sale in limited numbers from 11 a.m. on 2 January until 9 p.m. on 3 January, Seiji knew they would sell out fast so he made sure he was there well before opening.

▼ Even then, there were lines outside the food court, with everyone on the hunt for fast food lucky bags.

When he arrived at Yoshinoya, he was thrilled to see there were bags still available, and after purchasing one for 2,000 yen (US$18.50), he resisted the urge to look inside the paper bag until he was back in the office.

While many fast food outlets like to fill their lucky bags with coupons to be used within the first half of the year, it was obvious that this fukubukuro had something other than coupons inside.

What could be inside the mysterious box? Seiji felt his beef-bowl-loving stomach flutter with excited butterflies as he lifted the cardboard box out of the bag and pried open the lid.

▼ But then, what he saw inside confused him.

▼ It wasn’t a Yoshinoya beef bowl… or was it?

Eating from an authentic Yoshinoya beef bowl at home is a dream for many, including Seiji, and although he’d had high hopes that this would be the year his dreams would come true, the strange shape of the bowl inside had him wondering what on Earth he’d received.

However, when he took the bowl out of the box, he realised that this was even better than a Yoshinoya bowl. This was a never-before-seen Yoshinoya bowl, with a unique shape to it.

With the company’s iconic bull-horn logo on the side, this had all the same markings as a bowl you’d eat from at Yoshinoya, but its warped, bent-out-of-shape appearance made it a very rare specimen.

As rare as a succulent, juicy slice of beef, this masterpiece is like the Holy Grail of bowls for Yoshinoya fans, and works well as either functional dishware or a decorative display piece.

Seiji was overjoyed with the bowl, and his smile grew even wider when he saw that it came with a pair of Yoshinoya-branded chopsticks, and coupons for five free gyudon beef bowls.

With beef bowls priced at 380 yen including tax, these coupons represented 1,900 yen worth of value, meaning Seiji received the bowl and chopsticks for just 100 yen.

That was an absolute bargain, making it one of the best fukubukuro on the market this year. Like the Starbucks lucky bag, it was also one of the hardest to find, so Seiji will definitely be hunting down the Yoshinoya fukubukuro again next year!

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]