“Earnestly carry out your dumb ideas,” our boss always says.

If you’ve been visiting our site for a while, you’ve probably noticed that we have absolutely nothing even vaguely resembling restraint when it comes fukubukuro/lucky bags, the blind-buy bundles that shops of all kinds in Japan offer during the New Year’s season.

Even by our standards, though, we may have gone a little overboard last January.

We ended up with so many lucky bags that their contents were flooding our office, with one mound of fukubukuro contents so big that you could practically sleep on top of it.

So in the interest of doing a little spring cleaning, back in April our boss, SoraNews24 founder Yoshio, decided to hold a lottery for anyone who wanted our entire remaining 2023 lucky bag haul. Ah, sorry, did we say “a little” spring cleaning? We meant a lot, as the entire giveaway bundle weighed around 200 kilograms (441 pounds).

As an added thank-you bonus to whoever was willing to take this off our hands, Yoshio and ace reporter Mr. Sato (pictured above) would be personally delivering the lucky bag prizes to the lucky winner. However, with this past summer having been basically one long heat wave in Japan, they wanted to wait until things cooled off a bit to make the delivery, and that time finally came earlier this month.

First, we had to pack everything up. Clearing out all that clutter reopened a pathway to the storage closet, which had been blocked and obscured for so long that we’ve got some people on staff who didn’t even realize it existed.

Then we had to haul everything down from our fourth-floor office to the street and load it into a van. Even though we consolidated different lucky bag contents into a series of sacks, there were still enough to completely fill up the van’s cargo space.

But still, we managed to get it all in…

…and then Yoshio and Mr. Sato set off for Shiga Prefecture!

Yes, the winner of our lucky bag lottery, who we’ll call Mr. T (no relation to the ‘80s action star of the same name), lives in Shiga, roughly half-way across Japan’s main island of Honshu from our office in Tokyo.

According to Google, it was going to take around six and a half hours for Yoshio and Mr. Sato to drive the 478-kilometer (297-mile) westbound route from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward to the Shiga town of Otsu, driving directly and non-stop. What you have to remember, though, is that we’re very, very easily distracted. Wisely admitting to themselves that they would be unable to avoid taking side routes and gawking at proverbial shiny things along the way, Yoshio and Mr. Sato decided to set out the day before they were scheduled to make the delivery to Mr. T, spend the night in a Shiga hotel and arrive at his house the next morning.

This turned out to be a wise decision. We mean, how could anyone, let alone these two unabashed kids-at-heart, be expected to resist the urge to pull over at an expressway rest stop that has its own Ferris wheel

…or a restaurant with a name that’s almost the same as Japan’s most legendary historical swordsman and has a super-cool rice dispensing machine?

In the end, what could have been a six-and-a-half-hour drive turned into an 11-hour one, as Yoshio and Mr. Sato made it to their hotel in Ritto, a town on the eastern side of Shiga’s Lake Biwa, around 9 p.m. But again, this was all according to plan, and the next morning they completed their journey to Otsu, arriving at the address Mr. T had provided them with.

As the face of the company, Mr. Sato handled the greeting as Mr. T and his son came out to meet him at the side of the street. “It’s nice to meet you, and thank you for always reading our site,” Mr. Sato said to them. “We’ve brought the lucky bag prizes, so where should we put them?”

Mr. T actually has two structures on his property, with the one closest to the street being a barn for storing farm supplies. The family lives in the house further back from the road, but for now he said we could set the prizes down in the space between the two buildings, after which he and his family would sort out which items were going where.

With 16 bags to unload, Mr. Sato was glad for the strength and endurance he’s developed after taking up competitive pole-dancing as a hobby.

But as it turned out, Mr. T had a better idea than carrying everything by hand, and brought out a wheelbarrow that they were able to transport some of the stuff in.

As they were working, Mr. T made a surprising revelation to Mr. Sato. “I kind of just entered your lucky bag lottery for kicks, and I didn’t think you’d actually deliver all this.”

But since one of our company policies is “Earnestly carry out your dumb ideas,” we had to keep our promise.

▼ Even Mrs. T, who came out part-way through the process, was amazed by the size of her family’s fukubukuro windfall.

Even after all the lucky bag prize sacks had been unloaded, though, there was still the pièce de resistance…

…or perhaps we should say the panda de resistance.

You may recognize this giant panda stuffed animal from some of our previous articles, like when we covered (and created) the Running While Carrying a Giant Stuffed Panda Championships.

▼ The world record, set a year ago, still stands at 10.57 seconds, probably because no one who can do it faster knows that this is a sport.

Mr. Sato actually has a bit of a complicated relationship with this panda, who he’s named Panjiro (and yes, we did specify ahead of time in the lottery entry information that the prize was all of the 2023 lucky bags’ contents and the giant panda plushie). As you can probably guess, Panjiro is heavy, and Mr. Sato still has traumatic flashbacks to the time Yoshio made him transport the panda across the Shinjuku neighborhood.

Lugging Panjiro from the van to Mr, T’s house triggered those memories…

…but knowing that this would be the last time for Mr. Sato to feel Panjiro’s fluffy weight suddenly gave those memories a nostalgic feel.

Still, Mr. Sato knew this was for the best.

“Panjiro, here the skies are blue and the mountains green. The air and water are clean, and there’s a stream nearby where you can catch fish. It’s nothing like SoraNews24 HQ. This is a clean, wholesome place, and it’ll be a great place for you to live.”

“OK, Panjiro, we’re here.”

“It’s been a long journey, but this is your new home, and your new family.”

“Goodbye, Panjiro.”

In closing, we’d like to say a big thanks to the T family! As for promising to buy fewer lucky bags, or just fewer crazy things in general…come on, we all know that’s a promise we can’t keep.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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