Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s’

Feelin’ lucky? The highs and lows of ‘fukubukuro’

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Whether you count fukubukuro “lucky bags” as a thank-you to shoppers, a scheme to unload less popular merchandise at the end of the year or just a way to kick off the New Year’s sales, buying a mystery pile of stuff worth [hopefully far] more than the price tag is a tempting offer to many. Plus, who knows, you might just be one of the really lucky ones:

https://twitter.com/pqwpqwpqw/status/418576520794218496

Translation: My Apple Store lucky bag! Thanks to being the fourth person in line about 24 hours ahead of time, I got a MacBook Air! It was a blizzard in Sapporo, so it was really rough to wait outside all that time, but I had fun! Anyhow, now I’m gonna rest! lol

Let’s see what other Twitter users’ lucky bag experiences were like…

My best friend said she bought a certain brand’s lucky bag and a mop was inside. I had her bring it over today and omg I laughed so hard lololol [...]

I bought a natural gems lucky bag thinking a phone strap or something would be inside and it was an uncut amethyst lol

Today’s J-blip: Kasō Taishō’s YouTube channel

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Traditionally in Japan, oshogatsu is when families gather and celebrate the passage of the old year into the new one. Various customs are honored without fail, but when all is said and done and eaten, one of the biggest recent-day traditions involves the clan coming together in front of the TV.

A large chunk of this tube-watching is focused on the cult of celebrity, from the spangled jamboree of  “Kōhaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Song Battle)” on New Year’s Eve to the dozens of shows featuring comedians and starlets answering quizes, running marathons, visiting exotic places and so on. For this reason alone, “Kinchan & Katori Shingo no Zen-nihon Kasō Taishō” stands out from the crowd as a tribute to the common man. Broadcast on Nippon Television since 1979 (at its peak, three times a year; now only around New Year’s and in spring), the contest salutes the passion of amateurs.

This week NTV launched a  new Kasou channel on YouTube. Currently, 30 videos of past contestants are on offer, organized into various playlist categories (humor, performance, technique). Whether it’s precision choreography, athletic feats, adorable kids or just damn clever visualizations, most are worth a click. The videos are missing the post-performance deconstruction of how they did it, but at least you are spared the manic vaudeville emceeing.

Continue reading about Kasō Taishō →

New era for New Year’s cards

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Forgotten the address? Postman gets it for you via Facebook

As holiday season approaches, people are beginning to start thinking about sending out New Year’s greeting postcards to relatives and friends. JP Post guarantees that all cards marked as nengajo will be delivered on New Year’s day and hires temporary staff to help them achieve this goal. However, in recent years, the burden of delivering nengajo has shifted from the post office to the internet and cell-phone networks, as increasing numbers of people opt to send electronic New Year’s greetings.

Though the web can cope with this increased traffic, cell-phone networks can’t, and every year the major networks issue warnings to customers that after midnight on New Year’s Eve, they can expect delivery delays of up to two hours for mail service as well as difficulty in making calls due to high traffic.

Even if you do get through, sending your nengajo via email may create the impression that you’re not that bothered about the person receiving the message — either that or they’ll think you’re a bit of a tight wad. This year, however, the traditional nengajo has been given a digital facelift and several innovative new services are available to help you get your New Year’s greetings done properly.

  • Postman: Mislaid addresses? No worries. Similar to Giftee, which works utilizing Twitter, this service finds addresses for you via Facebook. Ad agency Dentsu has teamed up with Japan’s Post Office to create Postman and in the future the service will be extended to allow people to send other kinds of greetings cards and even gifts. Using the templates available, you are able to customize your own cards. Available only in Japan, cards cost upward of ¥97.
  • Nenga-Cinema: These nengajo double as gifts. A code printed on the postcard can be input into the nenga-cinema website allowing the receiver to view one of 30 movies available online for free. The service is offered by Ripplex and Sony, and titles available are “Spiderman,” “Men in Black” and “Taxi Driver.” These cards cost a reasonable ¥365.
  • Budemame Nenga 2012: Want a personalized card, but too busy to sit at your desk and create one? Try this Android app, which allows you to create your own card on your smartphone. Combine photos taken on your phone with customizable templates to create a personalized nengajo. To print, send the info to a PC or use a smartphone compatible printer.

Lucky bags give away secrets before purchase

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Wild scenes were witnessed in Shibuya’s 109 on Jan. 2 as the scramble for fukubukuro (lucky draw bags”) got underway. The store opened its doors at 6:45 a.m., to let in long lines of teen shoppers, some of whom had been queuing since midnight to get their hands on a bag of unknown goodies from their favorite brand. Once inside, according to Shibuya Keizai Shimbun, staff struggled to maintain order as the teen hordes waged war to snap up bargain bags.

Taking a gamble on a fukubukuko (Janne Moren photo)

Uptown in Ginza, things were, of course, a little more refined, but competition for some of the choicest department store fukubukuro was fierce. According to Yomiuri Online, hot items like Printemp’s Jyoshi Kai (women’s meet up) bag, sold out in the first day they went on sale.

Swift sales of fukubukuro, coupled with healthy sales figures for the first day’s trading for Tokyo’s department stores, have been taken as good indications that the Japanese economy is recovering. The newly refurbished Mitsukoshi Ginza, which was reopened in September, last year reported an increase in sales of 40 percent for the same day last year. Part of the draw for customers was the lucky bags that stores claim contain items exceeding the bag’s retail price.

These days, fukubukuro buying is a more transparent process. There’s a tendency now to advertise what the bags will contain. What’s now left to chance is whether you happen to land a bag that contains a special extra item. The standard Jyoshi Kai bag, for instance, contained a fondue set and an apro,n among other pre-advertised contents. Three out of 20 bags, however, also contained a bottle of rose champagne. The bags cost ¥15,000 each.

The bags also reflected recent cultural trends. Jyoshi kai is a word to describe the growing trend among women to indulge in female-only activities, especially dinner dates. Mountain climbing was also a hit with young women this year and, appropriately, Seibu brought out the Yama Gaaru (Mountain Girl) fukubukuro. Aimed at beginner female mountain climbers, the bag, which cost ¥10,000, contains climbing gear from famous alpine brands. Out of  10 available in the store three contained tickets for a prize draw giving the holder a chance to win a domestic holiday.

Another trend in fukubukuro is the “experience lucky bag.” Those who pre-order a bag before the New Year are buying into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Mitsukoshi department store came up with this concept in 2008 and the idea has really caught on. This year one of the most sought-after experience fukubukuro was Tobu department store’s Sky Tree Tower Trip. The lucky few would get to visit the construction site, take photos and get their mitts on some special souvenirs, all for just ¥2,010.

Perhaps one of the weirder experience bags was the mother/daughter department store experience. Those who bought this bag for ¥2,100 will be able to dress up in a shocking pink Seibu department store uniform and then enjoy the experience of manning the store’s reception desk, working in the elevator and making in store announcements. That’s right, Mom. You can set the bar high for your little girl’s future career prospects!

Fukubukuro photo by Janne Moren

Real New Year’s greetings to virtual addresses

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Last year, people in Japan exchanged some 2 billion New Year’s greeting cards called nengajo (年賀状). As long as they’re marked appropriately and posted in the specially marked mail slots between Dec. 15 and 25, they’ll be delivered to friends, family and business associates nation-wide (by an army of holiday part-timers) on Jan. 1.

WebPO

A middle man between you and your online friends

Technology has taken some of the work out of addressing, writing, stamping and mailing them in the last few years.  Any number of Internet and keitai sites allow exchange of e-greetings by Web mail or mobile phone. Apparently, though, nothing beats flipping through that nice fresh stack of real cards, signed, sealed and delivered on the first day of the year. Now several services are preserving the personal paper touch while taking the work out of addressing them by sending real nengajo via virtual addresses.  Even if you don’t know your online friends’ e-mail addresses — or even their real names — you can send them the cards.

The two main services offering this feature are Japan Post’s WebPO and Net-nengajo. For either one, you select the cards and choose your message online, addressing the card to an e-mail address, social network profile name or Twitter handle.  The service then tells the recipient a card is waiting and asks for a real-world name and address. This goes directly onto the card without ever being revealed to the original sender. Mixi has a similar nengajo system in place for exchanges among its own members.

Continue reading about next-generation nengajou →

Show your stripes in the new year

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

The flesh-eating beast gets a kawaii makeover (left); Canon's free paper-craft tiger

The flesh-eating beast gets a kawaii makeover (left); Canon’s free paper-craft tiger

“Tiger tiger burning bright in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

Well, Japanese artists for one, who have not only managed to render the tiger tame, but have also depicted it as being unbelievably cute. If you live in Japan you won’t have failed to have noticed that the Year of the Tiger is about to pounce upon us and the shops are filled with tiger-themed New Year’s cards, stamps and otoshidama money envelopes.

If you’ve got plenty of ink in your printer but no cash in your pocket, you might want to hit Canon’s Web site which has a treasure trove of downloadable resources for the New Year. We really like the paper-craft tiger, but there are also money envelopes and postcards for those that aren’t up to wielding glue and scissors.

If you’re too lazy to buy stamps and post your New Year cards, Japan Post Office have launched a great site that will do the job for you from the comfort of your own home. Templates can be customized with hand written messages (a bit tricky this with a mouse) and photographs, before being sent either to an email address or directly to the addressee’s house.

The tiger symbolizes courage and passion and the year ahead true to economic predictions looks to be one that will be hard fought.

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