WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Translator/Interpreter/Writer Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken, 2000-03). Recently she’s been watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese and sharing some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.
福袋 (or fukubukuro) are an essential part of the Japanese New Year’s celebration. These are grab bags (literally translated as “lucky bag”) given out at department stores that contain merchandise worth much more than what you pay for the bag itself. However, there is a bit of chance involved as some deals are better than others. Here are some new fukubukuro available through the end of 2009 that reflect political and social trends from the past year.
One is the Takashimaya 友愛 (yuai) fukubukuro playing off of Prime Minister Hatoyama’s fraternity theme. In this case the yuai refers to You and Love in connection to 婚活 (konkatsu), or marriage hunting. These sets include paired items such as matching cups, plates and bowls with an accompanying apron (5000 yen) or pair mugs with your choice of matching pajamas or underwear (3000 yen).
Another is the 事業仕分け (jigyo shiwake) fukubukuro where you get to pick out and bag the contents yourself, much like the sorting out procedure the name is based on. The customer can pick three items from seven options including $2500 designer bags, the Wii, pressure cookers and cup and saucer sets. These fukubukuro are available for only 10,000 yen to five people selected in a lottery. The items that the announcer gathered had a total value of $3380, giving her free merchandise worth $3280!
As far as I know fukubukuro are not available at Takashimaya New York, so in order to enjoy this New Year’s treat those of us who are local are going to have to live vicariously through our friends in Japan.