A new year has dawned in Tokyo, and that means it’s time to go shopping! In Japan, “Hatsuuri” (the first sales of the New Year) is a great time to find everything from fashion to cosmetics to electronics to you-name-it at big discounts. Even more popular that price drops are the Fukubukuro (Lucky Bag) sales – also part of Hatsuuri. These super sales usually start on January 2nd or 3rd, but some crazy stores like LaForet Harajuku open bright and early on the morning of the 1st (right after New Year’s Eve!) The epicenter of fashion hatsuuri madness for young Japanese is the areas surrounding Harajuku and Shibuya, including the supermalls LaForet and Shibuya 109, Cat Street, and – the street of dreams for many Japanese teens – Takeshita Dori.

Tutuanna Takeshita Dori

We spent the first few days of 2011 photographing the New Year’s sales and Fukubukuro madness in Harajuku and Shibuya. In this first report, we’ll be showing you a bit of the Takeshita Dori shopping frenzy. Our next report will cover LaForet Harajuku and the rest of Harajuku, and then we’ll post Shibuya 109 pictures and the rest of Shibuya as well.

Before we start off, you should know that New Years sales in Japan work differently than in other places. While some Japanese retailers celebrate the New Year by cutting prices throughout the store – just like in American or European holiday sales – it is traditional for Japanese shops to offer fukubukuro (“lucky bags”). These are set price bags you buy without knowing what’s inside. Stores promise that the value of the goods will be greater than the price you pay – i.e. a 5,000 yen bag could contain 20,000 yen worth of stuff. Stores often offer a limited number of fukubukuro, which means brand fans will line up hours before the store opens in the hopes of walking away with their very own lucky bag.

Though usually these lucky bags are literally shopping bags, many brands package the lucky goods in creative ways to grab shoppers’ attentions. Shops like Liz Lisa and Gilfy often sell their high-end lucky goods inside logo-emblazed rolling luggage. This year, we noticed a few stores – Adidas and True Religion, for example – packaging their fukubukuro in big lidded buckets. However they wrap it, the mystery is part of the fun.

Enough explanation! Here are our pictures of 2011 fukubukuro, New Year’s Sales, and the throngs of happy shoppers on Takeshita Dori in Harajuku. These photos are taken walking up Takeshita on the morning of January 1st, and then once we reach the top, we start back down shooting in the afternoon of the 2nd. So, it’s actually two days worth of pictures because some shops weren’t open on the first day. Enjoy, be sure to check back soon for the rest of Harajuku and Shibuya, and don’t forget to click on the photos to see them bigger!

Angelic Pretty Fukubukuro
Here we are at the Meiji Dori end of Takeshita Dori. These two lucky girls are carrying fukubukuro from Angelic Pretty and Baby the Stars Shine Bright – very popular Lolita brands with shops inside of LaForet Harajuku.

Wonder Rocket Takeshita Dori
Wonder Rocket has fukubukuro and many shoppers. The cutely dressed girl out front is shop staff. Many shops having people standing outside yelling for you to come in and BUY something.

Claire's Takeshita Dori
A friendly be-dreaded Claire’s employee offers a sen-yen lucky bag.

Pet Paradise Takeshita Dori
Fukubukuro full of pet clothing for the fashionable chihuahua.

Body Focus Takeshita Dori
Body Focus offers lucky bags containing Victoria’s Secret bath and body products.

Listen Flavor Harajuku
Listen Flavor’s fukubukuro are brightly colored and 5,000 yen each.

Fukubukuro Takeshita Dori Harajuku
Tiny Fukubukuro filled with accessories.

Gal Fit Takeshita Dori
Trendy shop Gal Fit offers both lucky bags AND reduced prices on their other stock.

Liz Lisa Harajuku
A smiley Liz Lisa staffer in trademark fuzzy floral print – and a fluffy pillow!

Liz Lisa Harajuku
Liza Lisa is a very popular shop with young Japanese girls – especially with New Years’ prices!

Shiseido Fukubukuro
Cosmetic fukubukuro. Each bag shows roughly what’s inside.

Panama Boy Harajuku
Shoppers take a close look at the Panama Boy lucky bags.

ACDC Harajuku
Popular shop ACDC still has fukubukuro, and a petite employee with a big megaphone.

Fukubukuro Takeshita Dori Harajuku
Shop staffer holding an advertising sign. Her arms must be so tired at the end of the day!

Luceo Takeshita Dori
Luceo fukubukuro at two price points – 3,150 yen and 5,250 yen. The signs tell how many items are in each bag (four) and exactly what those items are. Though this is probably practical, it sort of takes the mystery out of “mystery bags”!

Claire's Takeshita Dori
Claire’s lucky bags and yelling shop staff standing on foot stools.

Momo by Wonder Rocket
Momo by Wonder Rocket’s staff has big smiles and handfuls of on-sale merch. No lucky bags in sight, though.

Joky Gal Fukubukuro
At this shop, you can buy a full six-piece outfit – including a furry-lined plaid hoodie and matching shorts – for 5,000 yen! Set comes in red or black.

Takeshita Dori Hatsuuri
Hoping her voice can be heard above the other shop’s staff, this staffer is standing on a tall stool while shouting out her store’s sales news.

Takeshita Dori Fukubukuro
One of Takeshita Dori’s perfume shops offers a fragrance lucky bag.

Takeshita Dori New Years Sales
Whew! We’ve made it to the Harajuku Station end of Takeshita. Time to start back down the way we came, but one day later. :-)

Takeshita Dori Fukubukuro
Moving back down Takeshita, we see shoppers flocking to Paris Kids’ tiny fukubukuro.

Paris Kids Takeshita Dori
Paris Kids’ two cashiers being kept busy by the crowd.

Takeshita Dori Hatsuuri
This awesome guy is promoting Ruo Accessory shop.

The Silhouette Takeshita Dori
We took this photo by holding our camera above the crowd and shooting. We didn’t realize we’d caught this staffer’s awesome smile until we downloaded our photos. What a nice surprise!

Momo Takeshita Dori
This Momo staffer may be petite, but she’s got a great big voice! These poor girls must be completely hoarse after the sales are over.

Momo Takeshita Dori
Plenty of clothes on sale…

Momo Takeshita Dori
…and big Momo fukubukuro as well. Momo has a lot of shops on Takeshita and they seem to be adding more every few months. Soon they might own the entire street. :-)

Takeshita Dori Fukubukuro
Super-soft socks, three pair for 525 yen.

ManiaQ Harajuku
ManiaQ is packed floor to ceiling with fairy-kei colors.

Takeshita Dori Hatsuuri
This guy was not only standing in the center of Takeshita Dori (rather than on the side), but was also shouting the loudest of all the shop staffers today.

Harajuku Hatsuuri Shoppers
These friendly shoppers were nice enough to pose for us holding their Sex Pot Revenge and ACDC sale bags.

L. Chance Takeshita Dori
The L. Chance fukubukuro seems very popular.

Ancoco Takeshita Dori
An Ancoco shopper carrying a very heavy-looking promotional sign. He voice carried so well she didn’t need her megaphone!

QNG Takeshita Dori
Bright pink lucky bags at QNG (“Queen’s taste aNd Gorgeous”).

Liz Lisa Takeshita Dori
Every year at hatsuuri time, we see crowds of young women dragging Liz Lisa fukubukuro luggage. These rolling bags are stuffed with Liz Lisa clothes. Such a deal!

Takeshita Dori New Years Sales
The crowds are huge, even by Takeshita Dori weekend standards. Hope no one is in a hurry.

Takeshita Dori Crepes
Luckily, there are crepe shops to help our morale (and fun couples with matching dayglo hair).

Aimerfeel Fukubukuro
Underwear shop Aimerfeel offers lucky bags and 30-50% off storewide.

Takeshita Dori Fukubukuro
This picture is just so awesome that I don’t know what to say.

WEGO Takeshita Dori Fukubukuro
Adorable WEGO staffers. Too bad the girl on the left took off her bunny ears!

Takeshita Dori New Years Sales
We did it! We made it back to Meiji Dori where we started yesterday.

Now it’s time to head out into the rest of Harajuku and take Fukubukuro pictures at LaForet, Meiji Dori, Cat Street, and all of the little back streets that make this neighborhood so cool. Those pictures will be posted in our next report very soon – along with pictures of more shoppers holding their lucky bags. Please check back!

Also, remember that you can click any of the photos to see them bigger.

Happy New Year!

21 Comments

  1. the guy who was yelling the loudest with the 1,000 sign is there like everyday 7 days a week yelling from 1pm till 8pm. its actually really impressive its just an endless stream but he has such a husky voice it makes me wonder if he has damaged it by yelling so much. he sounded a bit more hoarse today. i hope he gets paid well.

  2. OMFG I want to be there SO badly!!! T.T It looks like so much fun and these are such good prices!

  3. OMG I went Tokyo at the wrong time, I should be there now so I could go to ACDC I love that shop

  4. Pingback: Fukubukuro Pictures – Takeshita Dori 2011 « iamdash

  5. ♥♥♥♥♥♥ it !!! Which lucky bags do you think are must to buys from ?

  6. anyone know when is the best time go n get the clothes? what’s the street that has liz lisa?

  7. I like the lucky bags itself from Trendy shop Gal Fit, such a nice rich blue colour ^_^

  8. Pingback: Fukubukuro Pictures - Shibuya 2011

  9. Pingback: Fukubukuro pictures, Part 2 — thefashionatetraveller.com

  10. Ohhh myyyy~ That Ancoco brand looks so cute !! Do they have a website??

  11. Totally want the Wonder Rocket one!
    Thanks for all the photos of the fukubukuro- I’m totally jealous of this Japanese tradition!

  12. Ah~~~ We were there for all the sale Shenanigans! It was amazing. I am so glad we went to Japan for this! That poor guy! We ended up stopping back over there one last time on the 5th and he was as hoarse as hoarse gets.
    got both those really cute floral sets that girl at Ancoco was advertising ^_^

  13. Wow, you took so many great pictures!!
    I love that you covered a variety of styles and places, too! :D

    It looks so exciting~
    Hopefully you weren’t too overwhelmed by the end! Hehe :)

  14. bao chen

    ahhhhh saleeeeesssss!!!!! i love saleeeeeeesssssss!!!!!

  15. Qu’est ce qu’ils sont ouf ces japonais! j’adore!!!!

  16. OMG why cant it be like this where i live. Unbelievable lucky bags in nearly all shops. I love the mystery gifts , years ago claires use to do them but not any more*sigh*.

  17. milkitchen

    So cool! Do you get to see what is inside the fukubukuro?

  18. All the little goody bags…reminds me of Clothes Show Live at the NEC Birmingham.
    When I went to Harajuku it was Summer.