Fukubukoro hunting tamed by the Internet

January 8th, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

Fukubukuro on sale outside a pharmacy

Fukubukuro on sale outside a pharmacy

The start of January ushers in the season of fukubukuro madness. A fukubukuro is a sealed paper bag that contains heavily discounted items that are, depending on your perspective, either exciting and exclusive goodies or junk the store wants to get rid of. Traditionally when the fukubukuro are released pandemonium ensues and normally polite Japanese shoppers lose all decorum in their scramble to get their mitts on the limited stock of bags. So in order to avert these ugly scenes, department stores have begun selling fukubukuro over the Internet, which makes sense if you’re buying blind. Applicants are entered into a lottery which is a lot fairer than the law of the jungle that reigns on the shop floor.

According to Time Out Tokyo, some stores embraced the konkatsu (marriage hunting) trend by tailoring their bags to help women find their perfect mate. Ginza Mitsukoshi were selling konkatsu bags for women at ¥21,000 that contained a swanky outfit and coupons for etiquette lessons. Printemps Ginza had a funnier take on the konkatsu theme, by making two separate konkatsu bags: one for women who want to catch that elusive creature, the herbivorous man (shoushoku-kei) and one for women aiming at a “nikushoku-kei” (carnivorous man). The first contains cooking utensils for making salads and the second for making meat dishes, these bags were priced from ¥3,100 to ¥10,500.

On the high street, Muji also sold bags over the Internet but reflecting the straitened state of the economy, prices were considerably lower than previous years. The women’s bag including a coat, sweater and some “everyday wear” was down in price from ¥5,000 to ¥3,150. The real value of the goods are ¥13,000, making the savings now around ¥10,000.

Bags from large department stores and sought-after brands like Muji have now sold out but there are still some offers available online, Rakuten are selling a range of bags priced from ¥2,010 to ¥20,001. The cheapest of the bags contains underwear, socks, New Year’s sweets or Japanese print cloth, while the most expensive contains branded clothes, fancy lingerie or a selection of crab products.

As the fukubukuro season winds to a less violent close than previous years, with many purchasing their bags over the Internet, the rise in popularity of konkatsu bags shows that many young women have now directed their hunting skills instead to finding the perfect mate.

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