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.
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!
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.
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”!
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!