Jan 10, 2019

Being Frugal with Fukubukuro

    The Fukukuro, or lucky grab bags, have long been one of my favorite things about Japan at New Year's. The opportunity to get a bunch for a little is enticing and if done right, the lucky grab bag experience can be really rewarding.

    Unfortunately, between a surprise visit from a friend from high school (her first trip to Japan) and a passport-renewal-turned-Disney-trip with my husband and little one, the end of 2018 hit me really hard right in the pocket book, leaving little for New Year's fun.
Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photo
Village Vanguard's signs, saying things like "Idiots like this" and "a-holes like this" made it easier to avoid dropping 3,000 yen on random nonsense.
Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photo

    One fukubukuro I bought anyway and always do is from Mister Donut, where each bag comes with an equal value donut card, meaning 1,000 yen gets you a card good for 10 donuts (priced less than 172 yen each) and the 2,000 yen bag doubles the number to 20. You do have to use the card within a few months. This is a really good deal if you frequent Mister Donut anyway, as it's cheaper than usual for something you would already be buying, but in addition you get a calendar and a few other goods. This year, the 1,000-yen bag contained a small fleece lap blanket and a file folder in addition to the 10 donut card and calendar. The 2,000 yen bag also included a very small tote bag, but the location nearest my home was sold out of the larger option on the first day of bag sales.

   Since having to go through everything in our storage area to bring out the kotatsu and store the coffee table, I have spent this winter being far more aware of the amount of clutter in my home. This means even the bags I could afford held little value for me comparing to previous years, so further fukubukuro went un-purchased, despite some from craft shops being terribly desirable.
Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photo    
    The Craft Heart Tokai nearest my home offered 2000 and 3000 yen selections of yarn, cloth and other craft goods, complete with coupons for future purchases.

Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photo
The larger craft and cloth store Marubuchi in Sendai offered even more beautiful cloth assortments in their fukubukuro.

    That is until I was in Sendai a week into the new year and noticed 1) many fukubukuro were still out and waiting to be sold and 2) many of these had been discounted from their original grab bag price to an even better deal, leading me to spend 1,800 yen on this 2,000-yen fukubukuro from Doutor, a national coffee shop chain. 25 drip coffee packets for 1,800 yen? Don't mind if I do.

To further explain two things I could have said better in the video:

Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photo
This is what I meant about the emblem on the bag referencing New Year's Mochi, with the little (in this case fake) orange on top.
Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photoBeing Frugal with Fukubukuro photo  Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photo
This is what was in the box. This times 25.
Being Frugal with Fukubukuro photo
I'm calling it a win.



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.


  • BlueButterfly

    on Jan 10

    Oh I didn´t expected that handcraft stores also offer lucky bags. The ones of Marubuchi looks very nice. I will try to get one next year if possible.

  • JTsuzuki

    on Jan 17

    @BlueButterfly I was also surprised by what they were offering. A few years ago, I went to Marubuchi on the first day of new year's sales and they had a grab-bag deal on fabric scraps-- fill a provided bag with whatever scraps you like from the bins for 500 yen. I picked up lots of scraps I still haven't used. Big craft stores are worth a visit during the sales for sure.

  • edthethe

    on Jan 19

    I really wanted to get a bag of fabric but they sold out before I go there

  • JTsuzuki

    on Jan 20

    @edthethe Ah, that's too bad! Better luck next year.