Buying Plus-size lucky bags (fukubukuro) in Japan
Japanese Lucky Bags
What are Japanese lucky bags? Well, the New Year in Japan brings many special traditions. Hatsumoude, the first shrine visit of the new year; Osechi, traditional foods eaten in the new year; and of course, fukubukuro, the New Year’s lucky bags.
Basically, Japanese lucky bags function as a way for stores to get rid of their extra stock. They take multiple items, package them together, and sell them at a set price. Generally the bags will have between 5 and 10 items in them. Beyond the genre of the bag (clothes, electronics, accessories) the actual contents of the fukubukuro are a mystery.
Most lucky bags run between ¥5,000 and ¥10,000 (roughly $50-$100 USD), but the actual value of the contents will well exceed that amount. It’s a win for vendors, as they can clear out old stock for the new year, and a win for consumers, as they can get goods from their favorite stores at a highly discounted price.
When I first came to Japan, I was bright-eyed and excited to try out this tradition. I bought a few lucky bags, and rushed home to try them on, only to be disappointed to find that none of the clothes actually fit me.
While I’m not considered plus-size in my home country, at 177cm tall and a size 10, I can’t be considered petite. In Japan, notorious for smaller clothes, I simply don’t fit the largest standard size, and “free size” or one size fits all, doesn’t even come close.
So, after two years of buying lucky bags and going home disappointed, I decided to call it quits.
After several years of watching from the side lines, I’ve finally found a way to get in on the hype. Actually, plus size lucky bags were available all along! I just didn’t know where to look. In the hopes that it will help someone else out there, I’m providing this short guide on where and how to get your hands on a plus size fukubukuro!
Punyus is a popular youth brand in Tokyo, founded by the famous comedian Naomi Watanabe. With shops all over, including in Shibuya 109 and Shinjuku’s Lumine EST, it’s easy to drop in and try on a few things to get an idea for your size. Outside of Tokyo? Outside of Japan? They do international shipping! Check the size guide on their online shop (up to size 6L). To order a fukubukuro online, all you need to do is go to their search bar and type in 福袋 (copy and paste if you need to!) and it should come up.
They sell out fast every year, so make sure you reserve your bag early. Unfortunately, even trying to reserve in November, I wasn’t able to land a bag this year. If you can’t reserve a bag, try your luck at the physical store on the first day they’re open. Try to get there early, because it’s extremely crowded and sizes sell out FAST.
Marui also sells plus-size lucky bags in their online shop, but they don’t provide any English assistance. Be ready to switch back and forth between google translate if you can’t read Japanese. Setting up an account can be VERY FRUSTRATING, as they only accept certain types of type. Just try to take deep breaths and keep calm as you navigate the site.
If you can set up an account, you’ll have access to a larger variety of brands. The key word you’ll want to remember is 大きいサイズ which literally translates to “big size.” It’s so obvious, I can’t believe I didn’t know it before. If you type 大きいサイズ福袋 into the search bar (big size lucky bag) a list of options should pop up.
Again, navigation is frustrating. The brands all have very different sizing, and there’s rarely a quick link to a size guide from the listing. There are also little to no photos of the brand at the listing, just a photo of a clip-art mystery bag with the brand name on it. I literally just looked at the brand names, typed them into google, and chose a few brands that looked like they might fit my style based off of their website. The ones I went with were bi abbey – days and FELISSIMO ladies, both priced at ¥5,000.
The bonus to ordering online in advance is that you get to skip the stress and anxiety of hitting the shops on opening day. Personally, I HATE shopping when it’s crowded. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a more crowded day at the shops than during fukubukuro season. If you order online, you can have your bags sent to your house (usually before New Years!!) and skip the madness.
As with O1O1, you can order Japanese lucky bags online through Rakuten. As with O1O1, the website can be frustrating and confusing, and there are about a million options to choose from. Follow the steps from above, and type in 大きいサイズ福袋 (big size lucky bag) to get a massive list of options. My search brought up over 15,000 options. You can narrow it down by selecting one of the categories at the top (レディース is women’s, メンス is men’s and so on). If you’re willing to be patient, they have a lot of cute options, including dolly fashions.
You’ll have to do a lot of the searching yourself, but that’s the fun part of lucky bags! Discover a brand you love, and let me know what you think!! Happy hunting!