Start the new year off with some great deals on vintage air!

In Japan, the New Year holidays are often a time for shopping. Gifts of cash are customarily exchanged by family members and stores try to capitalize on this extra spending money with special deals such as the limited-edition and discounted items inside lucky bags.

While this is normally the practice of shops and large businesses, it looks as if individuals are getting in on the action with a special-edition item of their own: air!

On New’s Day, a number of postings went up on the flea market app Mercari offering “Air of 2022” trapped in plastic bags and bottles. Most are selling for the fitting price of 2,022 yen (US$15) but some ambitious sellers were going as high as 20,022 yen ($153).

This might cause many to wonder, “Why are people doing this?” with some expletives sprinkled in for good measure. Selling air isn’t particularly a new thing. A British company made headlines a few years ago selling bottled air and even in Japan a company began selling canned “Air of Heisei” just before Naruhito became Emperor and the Japanese era officially changed from Heisei to the current Reiwa.

▼ A news report from 2019 about Air of Heisei. It was also a tourist campaign for the region of Heinari, whose kanji characters are the same as “Heisei”

It would seem that Air of Heisei is where this all began. When the cans hit the market in 2019 for 1,080 yen ($8) each, regular people decided to get in on the action too by selling their own Air of Heisei. However, since Heisei had already finished, they had to find air from that era that was already trapped and that was typically in packaging materials like bubble wrap or packing air bags produced before April of 2019.

▼ Air of Heisei can still be purchased on Mercari

The following New Year’s, a number of sellers began selling “Air of 2020”, and armed with the knowledge beforehand could trap their own air to sell a more artisanal version than the slick-looking cans.

▼ The brother of a seller of some 2020 air showing off the wares.

Granted, 2020 wasn’t a good year for air unless you’re a pathologist, which might be why there weren’t many postings for Air of 2021 the following year. But it appears to have made a sudden comeback at the end of 2022 and has caught people off guard, according to online comments.

“Oh crap! I’m all out of air from 2022.”
“I should have saved some air from 2022 when I had the chance.”
“I wonder what happens when you blend air from 2022 with some ‘23.”
“Oh yeah, I just realized I can’t breathe air of 2022 anymore.”
“I can still get some from my tires!”
“It’s going to lose its freshness in a plastic bag. Anyone who buys some should be sure to freeze it.”
“But how can you be sure that it’s really not just 2023 air until it arrives at your home and you open it?”

On Mercari, it is possible to look up the history and ratings of sellers and when checking people selling Air of 2022, they seem to all be normal sellers of typical items like clothing, electronics, or figures and all the sellers I looked at had perfect five-star customer satisfaction ratings. So, perhaps selling Air of 2022 is just their cute way of sending a New Year’s greeting to other Mercari users.

And if someone actually buys the air: Hey, all the better! 

At the moment there’s only a handful of people selling air from the previous year but we might be witnessing a quirky flea market app holiday tradition in the making. So keep your eyes peeled when Air of 2023 goes on sale next year or start stocking up now and sell some of your own.

Source: Mercari, Hachima Kiko
Photos © SoraNews24
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