Fukubukuro (Lucky bags) (福袋)
Fukubukuro are bags containing random goods to sell at department stores for the first day of business at the beginning of the year.
Basically the contents are unknown and more valuable than the actual total price, therefore customers can expect it as a kind of gamble on how useful and valuable are the contents they can get. While they are the feature items to draw more customers, they are also sold to get rid of excess merchandise often including excess and unwanted merchandise though the prices are valuable and such Fukubukuros are called Kusobukuro (shit bag) or Utsubukuro (depression bag) on the net and some department stores also began to call them Unlucky Bags masochistically.
Usually the contents are unknown, but in case of expensive bags containing jewelry goods and home electronic or bags containing goods like clothes, the contents are sometimes shown or able to be selected from certain groups of goods. Especially expensive bags containing jewelry or other expensive goods are displayed in showcases to draw the attention of customers. There are also transparent bags to respond to the needs of customers who want to know the contents.
Also there are bags containing catalogs in case of goods too large to contain or services. They are for example bicycles, home electronics, houses, trips etc.
It is IKSPIARI in Urayasu City of Chiba Prefecture that starts to sell Fukubukuro earliest at midnight on new year's day. However, some mail order sites on the internet start to sell a few days earlier than the day to be able to deliver goods to customers on January 1.
Also recently some electronics retail stores start to sell goods which are even valuable as Fukubukuro named like 'Otoshidama Bukuro (New Year's gift)' from New Year's Eve.
The selling price is limited to 20 times the value of the actual price in case of bags less than 5,000 yen and to 100,000 yen value in case of bags more than 5,000 yen according to Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations.
There is a record that the old department store Daimaru sold bags containing scraps of clothes in it's new year's sale in a certain period of the Edo period. In 1907, Tsuruya Gofukuten (now Matsuya department store) started to sell Fukubukuro. In 1911, Ito Gofukuten (now Matsuzakaya department store) started to sell Fukubukuro named 'Takarabako (treasure box)' at 0.50 yen at that time.
Spreading to other countries
Since Apple sold Fukubukuro at its direct-managed store Apple Store Ginza at New Year's in 2004 and it was selling well, it sells Fukubukuro named Lucky Bag also in the U.S. when new flag stores are opened.
The shopping mall Alamoana center in Honolulu, Hawaii has sold Fukubukuro at New Year's since 2005.