New Year’s, known as 正月 Shogatsu in Japanese, is a big deal in Japan. While most people ring in the New Year watching the first sunrise, or going to shrines to pray for their good fortune, there are those who choose to take advantage of crazy sales and fukubukuro, a.k.a ‘lucky’ or ‘happy bags’.
These lucky bags contain random, often hidden items, which are sold at set prices. There are all kinds of fukubukuro: clothing, cosmetics, anime, electronics, home wares, even eyewear (wrong prescription, tough luck!). Brands with loyal devotees such as Starbucks actually offer fukubukuro by lottery system, as their bags are so sought after.
The upside is that often the value of the items inside exceed the price you pay, and you could get some really good items for a fraction of the cost, the downside is that since these bags are primarily a way for stores to get rid of old stock, you may find yourself with a dud.
Unfortunately, not all lucky bags are made equal, so doing your research and choosing wisely is key. Many have been burned by the allure of a 1,000 or 2,000-yen mystery bag (myself included), only to find a bunch of less than desirable junk inside.
So what’s a bargain hunter to do? The best thing is to buy from brands you already like, ones that show you what is available in the bag, and when in doubt bags that offer edible things because at least in Japan food is rarely a let down.
After a bit of online research, some perusal of the shops, and thoughts about food brands I enjoy, the Mister Donut Lucky Bag seemed like my best bet. Their bags are popular every year and usually sell out. This year the bags come in three sizes: the smallest 1,080-yen, the middle size 2,160-yen, and the largest 3,240-yen.
I was a bit fearful I had left things a bit late, deciding to get a bag on the 2nd of January, but it seems like I was in luck, despite it being unavailable in my local branch, I managed to snag one at my prefecture’s AEON mall.
Before buying I was already shown what was inside, and as a Pokemon and donut lover it seemed like an awesome deal. I got the largest one which cost 3,240-yen. It included the following items:
1 x Mister Donut/Pokemon Blanket
2 x Mister Donut/Pokemon Plastic Files
1 x Mister Donut/Pokemon Calendar
2 x Mister Donut/Pokemon Containers
1 x Mister Donut/Pokemon Tote Bag
1 x Mister Donut Voucher for 30 Donuts
The main differences that I could understand from the different bags and pricing was that the smallest only contained the blanket, plastic file, calendar and 10 donut card, and the middle size offered the blanket, the tote, one of the containers, the calendar, and a 20 donut card.
Technically this was more of a lucky box rather than a lucky bag, and what a cute box it was. I really loved the design of the Pokemon, drawn in a ‘chibi’, pudgier style than in the anime. Seeing their cute little faces alongside donuts just made me smile immediately.
Inside the box were all the contents I had previously seen on the display, but it was nice to inspect my own versions. The first things I pulled out were the adorable square containers. They are small, measuring about 9cmx9cm, but the designs on them are really cute.
I really like the hand-drawn style of the Pokemon, and how they seem to inhibit a world entirely made of donuts, with donut houses, donut bicycles, and donut flowers. They containers are big enough to store a little snack in to complement your bigger bento boxes. I also liked how sturdy the plastic on the bottom seemed, making it a perfect mix between cute and practical!
The biggest item in the bag and probably a huge selling point was the Misdo Pokemon design blanket. This item really stood out on the displays, and was one of the only real surprise elements of this bigger lucky bag since there was a possibility of getting one of two designs.
On the displays I saw a white blanket with many of the core Pokemon on it including Pikachu, Eevee, and Charmander. The other had a yellow and white stripe design with a big Pikachu and Eevee on it, among the now familiar donut infrastructure. I received the latter, and I was not disappointed.
Pikachu and Eevee look like total BFFs and the blanket was really soft and fluffy. Despite being a bit on the thin side it’s a decent size, almost big enough to fit over my small coffee table, and works well as something comforting to wrap yourself in to give you a little extra warmth on your next Netflix binge.
Though not the biggest or most valuable thing in the bag, the Misdo Pokemon Calendar is perhaps my personal favourite. It’s quite large and a fun thing to have up on your bedroom wall. I was pleasantly surprised by how adorable the illustrations are for each month. Who knew Pokemon posing beside donuts could be so ‘awwww’ inducing? The dates also have Japanese kanji under them so it may also be useful for those of us learning Japanese.
The miniature tote bag used the same design as on the blanket with Eevee and Pikachu. This bag is probably just big enough to store your smartphone and a small wallet, perhaps not the most practical size but it makes up in cuteness.
As a person who struggles with keeping things in order, any way to get me to organise my papers is welcome, and these fun plastic files make that easy. I really like how this bag gives you both versions of the design, twice the organisational fun!
Last but not least, though the smallest item in the box it is by far the most valuable item. Just make sure you don’t lose it! After receiving all this cool Pokemon merch you may forget that this box is distributed by one of Japan’s most popular donut chains, and therefore must have an edible element.
Donut fear, as it does! This little card gives you 30 free donuts. Considering that their donuts cost around 172-yen, that’s 30 x 172 = 5,160-yen worth of donuts, far exceeding the price of this lucky bag! It may mean that I’ll be eating donuts for every meal for a few days, but I’m sure I’ll be able to spare some for family, friends and co-workers (if they’re nice). Be sure to redeem the voucher by 31st March 2019!
Maybe when it comes to lucky bags you shouldn’t catch em’ all, but this is one you’ll definitely want to get your Pokeball, and appetite, out for.