Often literally translated as "lucky bag," the fukubukuro (福袋) is a part of Japanese New Year's tradition, and the practice has a long history. As far back as the Edo period (1603-1868), early department stores and retailers started experimenting with mystery grab bags and other unusual sale techniques, and the name fukubukuro finally stuck about a century back. In Japan, it's seen as bad luck to begin the New Year with old stock, and the mysterious contents of a fukubukuro became the perfect way to get rid of it all - and attract customers to the shop to see new products at the same time. These days, shops of all kinds will offer fukubukuro in a range of prices, and they're all a little bit different. Some stick with tradition and stuff (sealed, opaque) bags full of old stock, whether it be apparel, home goods, or even gourmet food products, and the bags are then sold for clearance prices. Other shops, especially cafes and other brands without old stock, create special fukubukuro products each year, and instead of hiding the contents they often publicize them ahead of time to attract customers. No matter what kind of fukubukuro you choose to buy in 2024, each and every one is a fun way to treat yourself this winter. Here are a few recommendations!
Fashion, Homegoods, & More
This extra-kawaii Japanese brand is known for their super soft, super fluffy loungewear and pajamas, and these classic fukubukuro boxes each include a handful of different items made from their velvety-soft materials. The different boxes have a different mix of items, but some include a special t-shirt design available nowhere else!
▶︎ Details on the official Gelato Pique website.
Muji as a brand is an icon of Japanese style. Minimalist, chic, with fashion and home goods in natural tones and natural materials. But their yearly "lucky can" is a little more whimsical. Instead of filling up a bag with a selection of their older products, they instead offer little cans containing one of a few different small decorative objects (often themed around the coming year's zodiac animal), and a gift card worth the same amount as the can's price. (In 2024, that's 2,024 yen.) These little cans are a fun novelty, and easily worth the price for anyone who regularly shops at Muji, so every year they sell out fast!
▶︎ Details on the official Muji Official website
Known for their cute home goods and tea sets, Afternoon Tea's fukubukuro options are generally produced just for this yearly event, but they include some surprisingly substantial items for affordable prices. For 2024, the contents include things like mini grills/sandwich presses in a bright retro red, or even coffee makers! This fukubukuro is a quick way to add a little vintage kawaii to your kitchen.
▶︎ Details on the official Afternoon Tea website.
Food & Surprisingly Random Merchandise
Mister Donut might be known for their squishy mochi donuts, but every year when it comes time to put out a fukubukuro, they follow the lead of so many cafes and restaurants around Japan: they fill their lucky bags with food and drink coupons, and some totally random merch! Mister Donut's yearly strategy is to team up with Pokemon and release a whole bunch of limited-edition Pokemon and donuts merchandise. It's always adorable, and it's pretty irresistible to Pokemon fans with a sweet tooth. Grab yours to get Pokemon bath towels, Pokemon tote bags, and gift cards for anywhere from 20 to 50 donuts!▶︎ Details on the official Mister Donut website.
Mos Burger is a pioneer of the Japanese hamburger scene, innovating with rice buns and teriyaki sauce long before the competition. For their 2024 fukubukuro, they're teaming up with the massively popular anime One Piece. What's the connection? Unclear. But One Piece has been riding high off the popularity of its 2022 film, and it looks like Mos Burger is getting in on the action! Pick up a Mos Burger fukubukuro for 5,000 yen worth of meal tickets, and One Piece goods like t-shirts, pouches, and small blankets.
▶︎ Details on the official Mos Burger website.
Starbucks might be an American brand, but they've certainly wedged themselves securely into Japanese culture with their constantly rotating seasonal drinks and themed merchandise for every region of Japan. Perhaps it's no surprise that these days, the yearly Starbucks fukubukuro is extremely sought-after, and only available through a lottery online. You must be registered with My Starbucks to even enter, and you have to do it ASAP due to a surprisingly early cut-off date. If you manage to win the lucky bag of Starbucks goods, you pay 8,000 yen for an original limited-edition quilted tote bag, a limited-edition stainless steal bottle, coffee, drink coupons, and some other bits and bobs. Considering how expensive Starbucks bottles can get, it's probably not a bad deal! Highly recommended for diehard Starbucks lovers. Less recommended for those in search of great discounts.▶︎ Details on the official Starbucks website.