These aren’t lucky bags for the fainthearted.

Fukubukuro lucky bags are one of our favorite parts of Japanese New Year…or at least, they used to be. The thrill of buying a bag without knowing what lurked inside, hoping that your hard-earned yen had netted you something worthwhile, is an addictive gamble that keeps scores of shoppers coming back year after year. But since the risk of customers being disappointed by the contents of their lucky bag is very real, some chains have chosen to go the safe-but-boring route for several years running, now. What’s that, Krispy Kreme? Your lucky bag has donut vouchers inside it again this year? Groundbreaking.

Village Vanguard once honored the spirit of surprise with gag items and a very real threat that you’ll be left with a pile of junky merchandise at the end of your lucky bag splurge. In recent years though, the main Village Vanguard store has taken to following the crowd with predictable bag contents… But their off-shoot store, Village Vanguard Outlet, is another story altogether.

▼ One of the ten Village Vanguard Outlets in Japan.

While the parent company sought to assuage customer fears with their relatively safe, non-disastrous lucky bags, Village Vanguard Outlet flourished by following its own rules. A representative reached out to SoraNews24 to reassure us that their lucky bags featured a very real risk of disappointment…and how could we say no to that?

▼ Here’s our reporter P.K. Sanjun observing his kingdom of Village Vanguard garbage from previous years.

If the very vendor selling the lucky bags is willing to testify to its level of risk, these bags must contain some seriously bottom-level junk. Since that’s exactly the kind of thrill we were on the prowl for, we headed out to the Village Vanguard Outlet in Takao and loaded up on the most expensive of these allegedly audacious bags, which was priced at 10,000 (US$86.16).

“Buy 66,000 yen’s worth of value for just 10,000 yen!” announces the placard.

The eager advertising just raised our heart rates all the higher. There’s no way they would hype up the bundle so much otherwise, right? There must be a real risk of junk on the horizon. We awkwardly lugged the bulky box all the way home on the train and readied ourselves for whatever lay inside.

So without further delay, let’s get stuck into that 10,000 yen bag that claims to be worth 66,000 yen.

First up…

Ah, of course. A stuffed sperm whale.

“I would never buy something like this usually,” says P.K. Sanjun.

It even has some frayed stitching near the eyes for some extra pity points. Oh, dear.

The body is soft and smooth and the plush has a pleasant, weighty heft to it. For junk you would never typically buy, we rank this as a gold-standard item.

Moving on, the next item out of the bag was a luxury Sealane watch. According to its price tag, it typically retails for 28,000 yen. Score! We lucked out!

What followed in quick succession was a Pokémon rucksack, a shoulder-strap bag, and a woolen hat. None of these items were particularly offensive, and actually looked pretty nice…but they were things we never would have bought of our own accord. We felt the rush of exciting grab-bag purchases from years long gone wash over us! Thank you, Village Vanguard Outlet!

Then we have shameless box fillers like this drip coffee maker and a flip-note style clock. We respect the hustle, honestly.

So, did all of these items add up to a value of 66,000 yen? Maybe. Not all of the items came with price tags, so we have no real way of knowing. What we do know, however, is that this lucky bag truly filled us with the excitement and passion we missed from lucky bags of yore. This stuff is junk, but it’s good junk, and well worth the 10,000 yen we paid to encounter it.

Images © SoraNews24

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