An annual custom across Japan is the sale of fukubukuro (lucky bags), which are huge bags of assorted products from a store usually hidden from the buyer’s sight until purchase. Surprises can range from Apple goods to children’s clothing to kitchenware.
Although it’s a really fun idea in theory, many are uncomfortable putting their purchasing power in the hands of lady luck when they can just choose what they want. Others point out that while the total cost of items is a bargain, much of what you get are things you really don’t want.
Village Vanguard, a chain of stores known in Japan for their counter-culture merchandise such as “Homo” figurines, came up with a novel way of remedying lucky bag blues with their line-up of “unlucky bags” which ensure disappointment. It’s a brilliant idea considering when you buy into an unlucky bag, your luck can only improve from there.
These black bags decorated with storm clouds and fish bones are called fukobukuro with is a play on the words fuku (luck) and fuko (bad luck). The bags come in 3 regular varieties with five items each available for 3,000 yen (US$36) a piece.
1) “A Bleak Winds Blows”
This type of unlucky bag is modeled to bring a dreary winter afternoon’s breeze into your living room after first passing through the city dump. Some included items mentioned on the Village Vanguard online store include a “cardboard blanket” which provides three times the warmth of regular corrugated paper and some plastic garbage bags which you can fill with tissues and use as unfestive throw pillows.
With these and the other unlisted items you will be able to give your room the ambiance of a drainage tunnel. “A Bleak Winds Blows” promises to lower not only yours but your neighbor’s property values as well!
2) “Worst of the Year”
This bag is filled with Village Vanguard goods that are deemed the most unpleasant of 2013. Mentioned items include a coffee mug shaped like a toilet. I have one and often use it to drink my tootsie roll coffee every morning. There’s also an imitation used slipper. For those of us too lazy to trash a perfectly good pair, there slippers come with a pre-crushed cockroach stuck to the bottom. You know, so you don’t have to.
3) “Think You’re Itai? ”
Itai (pain) style has really been building in popularity these days. Cars littered with moe/anime/vocaloid girls can be found in more and more places around Japan. The concept being that the person is being self-deprecating or “masochistic” by flaunting their otaku interests so publicly.
Village Vanguard says why stop there? If you’re going to truly be masochistic, mortal wound themed adhesives would trump hand drawn girly pic decals. You may apply them to any computer or attack chopper you please. For all you hipsters out there; forget Hatsune Miku, torn flesh stickers are the new uncool-yet-ironically-cool-again thing.
Because the stickers could be considered a rip-off, even in an “unlucky bag” this one has six in total. Among them is a painful looking syringe shaped pen.
If you feel that this isn’t crappy enough to be considered an unlucky bag, then Village Vanguard is offering the Premium Packed Unlucky Bag for 5,000 yen (US$60).
This bag has seven terrible items including the cardboard blanket, injury stickers, and brand new used slippers. The store promises that a lot of blood sweat and tears went into creating this collection of items that remove a lot of blood sweat and tears from their customers.
I kind of hope that little anti-maneki-neko they have all over their web page is included. That evil little cat is darn cute!
So why set yourself up for disappointment this year by waiting in line for a so-called “lucky bag.” Pick up an Unlucky Bag this holiday season. Doing so might just purge your karmic bad luck and ensure a happy 2013.
Or it could just leave you with some garbage bags.
If you simply must get a conventional lucky bag this New Year’s Village Vanguard has them up the ying yang too.
▼ Party King Bag (Value: 8,400円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Stylish Indoor Goods Bag (Value: 8,100円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Outdoors Bag I (sports and leisure items) (Value: 8,400円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Expensive Goods Bag (looks promising) (Value: 8,000-10,000円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Stuffed Indoor Goods Bag (Value: 8,080円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Fashionable French Bag (Value: 8,980円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Best Value Cosmetics Bag (Value: 9,100円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Outdoors Bag II (winter items) (Value: 8,800円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Random Colorful Things Bag (Value: 9,100円 Price: 3,000円)
▼ Stationery Lucky Trunk I (Value: 8,900円 Price: 5,000円)
▼ Stationery Lucky Trunk II (Value: 9,100円 Price: 5,000円)
▼ Toy Camera Bag I (3 Cameras & 1 Secret Item) (Value: Up to 44,700円 Price: 10,500円)
▼ Toy Camera Bag II (Toy Camera Supplies & 2 Random Cameras) (Value: Up to 12,000円 Price: 2,835円)
▼ Toy Camera Bag III (2 Toy Cameras & 1 Random Toy Camera) (Value: Up to 30,000円 Price: 10,500円)
▼ Erotic Bag (various erotic goods like a Tenga Egg) (Value: 8,000-10,000円 Price: 3,150円)