Fukubukuro ‘lucky bag’ haul 2019: sweetness, sand, snacks, and salt

New Year’s Day brings the shrine visits and the lucky bags. The only 2 reasons not to stay home under the kotatsu util it’s time to go back to work.

No idea what we’re talking about? Go back and read our fukubukuro explanation from last year. We’re suckers for a bargain, so we did the lucky bag hunt again over Christmas and New Year.

Luck doesn’t always come cheap

We spent less on these lucky bags than before – almost 8,000 yen, compared to around 10,000 yen in 2018.

10k in Jan ’18 = £65.50, or $88.80.
8k in Jan ’19 = £58, or $73.95.

That’s more money left in our pockets for new year parties. It still feels like a lot, when you’ve got no idea what you’ll get for the cash.

So close, better luck next year

The luck you get with a lucky bag can be good, meh, or bad. Japan does try to make it good for everyone, but that’s not a promise. We missed out on, or skipped over, these food-y fukubukuros this time around:

  • Krispy Kreme – it wasn’t the most interesting bag ever. 12 doughnuts, a ‘passport’ for 12 more free doughnuts, and a tote bag. But it sold out in under 2 hours. We were curious, sure. Everyone else was more curious.
  • McDonalds – meh, we weren’t loving it this year. An insulated carry pouch that looked like a takeaway paper bag, and a ‘medium fries’ fridge magnet. The free food coupons didn’t add up to as much as 2018’s did, either.
  • KFC – they didn’t announce it until the 30th! How were we meant to prep on that short notice… we could’ve been drinking maple syrup by now. And toting a bag shaped like a family bucket of chicken.
  • Starbucks – to think we bitched about 2018’s lucky bag reservation system. This time, they ran a lottery. That’s pushing your luck twice. We’ll stick to the ones you have to elbow your way through a crowd for.

Okay, enough of what could’ve been. Check out the 2019 lucky bags we did pick up.

Mister Donut (2,160 yen)

We didn’t know if we’d ‘get’ this lucky bag. Not with it being a Pokemon collab. They were in crazy high demand – and released Dec 26th, while we were stuck in the office. But we told ourselves we’d try.

Out of the 3 choices (1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 yen goody bags), we wanted the 2,000 yen set:

  • Small blanket
  • Mini tote bag
  • ’20 free donuts’ card
  • Mini storage box
  • 2019 calendar

Guess it was the option every other Pokemon trainer wanted, ’cause finding this bag was a nightmare. Out of stock from day 1, with no idea when – or if – it’d be back.

Look at that smug Eevee. The sign on the left is ‘the 2k bag’s sold out, no restock date planned yet’. The sign on the right says: ‘the 3k bag’s totally sold out, and not coming back’. Yeah, you smirk all you want, Eevee.

(That wasn’t a problem with the smaller 1k bag. Mister Donut couldn’t pay us to take that off their hands… didn’t see a ‘sold out’ sign for it anywhere.)

It took a week, and trips to 3 different stores, but we caught that lucky bag in the end. And it’s super cute! Pikachu on one side, Eevee on the other.

Again, like every year, no actual food included. There’s a discount card – good for 20 free donuts, til the end of March 2019 – instead. (We’ve already eaten 2. Okay, more than 2…)

Out of 2 possible designs for each item (put in the bag randomly), here’s what we got:

The blanket’s surprisingly big for a ‘small’, and snuggly as hell. And the 2019 calendar’s gone straight up on the wall. We love the pocha-kawaii designs on everything, too. Pikachu’s been packing away those Pon De Rings…

Thanks, Misdo. You’ve made us as happy as a Jigglypuff with a permanent marker.

Village Vanguard (3,500 yen)

This year’s bag themes and designs changed for 2019, but VV’s colour coding for each theme kept us on track.

We narrowed it down to a shortlist: purple (‘bubbly new year’), red (‘stuffed with passion’), or light blue (‘weirdly useful stuff’). All our options were piled up right out front of the store.

Oh yeah. We could see a few purple and red bags, swamped by more light blue than anything else. Hey, ‘weirdly useful’ is a good shout, sure. That was the colour sorted. After that came the choice of which bag to take home.

With no way to peek inside, we were lifting bags to check their weight… and if anything was poking out the sides. But then, we saw the bag we wanted. More like, we saw the Village Vanguard promo sticker we wanted, and took the bag it was stuck to.

COME ON BABY AMERICA

It should’ve been a sign. The sign we were choosing the perfect, most awesome luck-filled lucky bag in the whole pile.

We got bait-and-switched, y’all.

What the hell is this. Discount desert Buckaroo. Didn’t even spell ‘camel’ right on the box (look closely). We’ve got zero use for this.

The rest of the bag: a Dr. Pepper fluffy pouch (kinda small), a Turkish woven towel (okay, useful), a blanket that looks like a shark (best thing in there), and a ‘Gilgamesh Night’ badge (why, even).

Village Vanguard, you lying, backstabbing little sneak. We trusted you! and you gave us a camel wearing lipstick. This could be the end for us.

Flying Tiger (1,080 yen)

Flying Tiger‘s random 1,000-yen bags are so awesome, this year we tried to get 2. But we could see something identical sticking out the top of every bag. Took a sneaky look in a couple bags… yep, all the same.

So we stuck with 1 bag. Lighter than last year’s, but it was packed out. Almost too wide to get through the subway ticket gate with. (If you were behind us in the queue that day, we can only say sorry.)

It’s designed for 2019 being the Chinese year of the pig.

Tiger now says on their promo that 1k lucky bags contain items worth at least 3k in total. They don’t disappoint – the headphones are easily 1k alone.

We didn’t notice a theme last year, but this year’s is all red, pink, and hearts. Like an early Valentine’s present. Heart straws, red napkins, a pink makeup bag, and a flamingo clothes hanger.

Clearly whoever was in charge of the 2019 bags put thought into it. They’re all filled with the same stuff, but you can’t help feeling like it was picked out just for you. It makes you feel lucky. Now that’s clever.

The final glory? The massive tin of butter cookies hidden at the bottom. We were shocked to get 1 of those last year. If it turns out they’re always in the bag, we’ll go back to Tiger every year ’til we die.

Random bag of snacks (1,080 yen)

We’d never bought an off-brand lucky bag before. This was a total impulse buy – grabbed on a walk home, while we were still salty about not getting Krispy Kremes.

This is what a traditional ‘normal’ fukubukuro looks like. Bright red, with no real design but the kanji for ‘fukubukuro’ (福袋) in huge print.

We tried quietly checking if any were heavier than the others. All kinda similar – all crazy light. That got us expecting popcorn, marshmallows, rice crackers… so what was really inside was a surprise.

Strawberry chocolate! Strawberry cream snacks! More chocolate! Karintou! Mini senbei crackers! What a haul.

It’s a nice mix of sweet and savoury snacks. Some split into little sharer bags, some we can keep to ourselves. Like a huge pack of potato chips that isn’t in the shot.

Lucky bags make your year random

Chances are you’re not reading this in January. Doesn’t matter – check the DEJAPAN website any month to see which fukubukuros are on sale.

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