Sunday, January 02, 2005

tokyo lucky dip

As a child I remember paying 20 cents for a lucky dip at the lolly shop or toy store. After handing over my hard earned money to the guy/girl behind the counter, I would almost burst with excitment as I plunged my hand through a messy hole cut into the top of a cheaply covered cardboard box. The lucky dip boxes were usually separated by gender, often there was a 'boy's' box and a 'girl's' box, of course I always grabbed from the girls box but wondered long and hard what might be in the 'boy's' lucky dips. The results were often not so lucky, I'd usually make away with a cheap useless toy or some sort of lolly, which didn't seem so bad at the time. Looking back, it was not the prize that mattered it was the rush I got when I saw a) that the shop had a sparkley lucky dip box and b) that I had enough money in my pocket to throw around on such things. It was not the the result that mattered so much, it was the anticipation, the excitment, the hope that I might get 'lucky' and end up with some value for money or at the very least more 'stuff'.

Perhaps it is that same excitment, anticipation and expectation of luck that compells 25 000 Tokyoites to line up on a freezing cold winter morning, at the front of an inner city department store, to get their lucky dip. Fukubukuro (fuku meaning luck or fortune, bukuro meaning bag) are found in most Tokyo stores at the end of the year. These 'lucky sacks' come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Fukubukuro are usually categorised by size, product type, brand, colour and of course price. Young girl's clothing stores were selling brightly coloured bags for 5000 yen, while some electronic stores were selling various fukubukuro for 10 000 - 30 000 yen. The real eye openers were the 'fortune bags' being sold for a small fortune at some of the leading Tokyo department stores, sparkling price tags putting a 50 - 100 million yen price on luck. The odds would have to be pretty high for the average shopper to plunge their grubby mitts into that kind of lucky dip.

lucky bags

To an outsider, this yearly tradition may appear to be a very lucrative way for an over stocked shop to clear it's merchandise. But according to a local Tokyoite, "many people believe that if they get something that they's gonna be their year".

Some fukubukuro even have enticing names. The 'ren-ai kachigumi' (winner of love) might tickle your fancy? Or how bout the 'hatsu-yume' (first dreams of the year)? Sounds tempting.

And yes I was lured for a moment, to perhaps try my luck, plunge my hand into that lucky dip for old times sake, but I have a feeling it's 'gonna be my year' anyway, so maybe I'll pass on the 'lucky bag' for now.

Lots of fuku to you all!

lucky bags


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