A difficult choice but one I made quickly when I remembered it was Fukubukuro day at Ala Moana Center!

I got up rather late New Years Day but the call of a very fun Japanese-inspired shopping event got me going fast over the hill to Honolulu to check it out. Fukukukuro is loosely translated to lucky/mystery happy bag’ – a practice started at the turn of the century in Japan to move end of year unwanted merchandise. A bag was made up, sealed, and priced for sale at less than 50% retail value, now with an updated twist of sometimes including a surprise bonus. Ala Moana Center (AMC) started this event 6 years ago with just a few participating stores.I honestly don’t remember seeing anything about it prior to this holiday season, but with over 50 stores on the list this year, it got enough press to make it quite a popular shopping event.

Take a look inside some of the bags that held bags but other goodies. Do you recognize VB? Le Sport? – these women were happy and came all the way from Ewa.

At AMC, shoppers were lined up well before opening hours to be assured of getting a bag’ (which were in limited numbers) at favorite stores. By the time I got there, the initial rush was over and I found groups of shoppers, sitting, going through their bags to see what was in there. Each store had a signature bag, to distinguish its identity, and even more charming was when a store packed the goods inside a bag that it would sell separately. In most instances there was one bag set at one price, but some shops had different levels of bag price, meaning the value of the contents went up also.

I talked to shoppers and shopkeepers about their experiences and learned the popular’ stores (Disney, Victoria Secrets, Lego, and Vera Bradley among others that included some very upscale ones) sold out to the first 30 shoppers in line at opening. I also saw a lot of bags from Gopa and Big Island Cookie Company. As a store sold out, they took their sign down so shoppers would know the bag was gone, but most shops seemed busy anyway. The overall feedback I got was one of great satisfaction with the event. Stores got shoppers in the door, and shoppers got deal and surprises for the price of one. I did notice that very few shoppers had only one bag… seemed it must have been a contagious kind of shopping, as most toted quite a few bags around.

As I wrapped up my research’, it was almost noon and time for a performance by Hawaii’s famous Kenny Edno and The Taiko Center of the Pacific. This was icing on the cake of my day at AMC, watching this famous troupe perform at center stage. Afterwards I saw him autographing his CD, while surrounded by fans. Hundreds stopped their shopping to watch this, so I hope you enjoy the video below.


  1. It's AWESOME to know about this event! I never heard of this before and I'm quite a shopper myself hehe… Thanks for the info =) I'm marking my calendar now =)

  2. So bummed I totally missed out on it this year, we lazied around and then I remembered the sale.  It's all the rage in Japan and I honestly have to say I didn't go in previous years because the list was small and they didn't have many surprises.  In Japan they have so many bags it overflows sometimes depending on the store.  I would love to know what some of the AMC surprise gifts were but then again that means shooting my foot for not going lol.

  3. So many local folk look foward to this fun day of shopping with unknown surprises in each bag..always worth more than you spent.  Its quite exciting, festive and unique!

  4. Shucks…I missed out on it this year too!  Can't wait for next year! Thanks for the info Katherine…Happy New Year!

  5. Oh my gosh.. so glad everyone enjoyed the posting.  Quite honestly, I wasn't aware of it in previous years, even though I did know it was really big in Japan.  The list of stores this year was really long at AMC, and it seemed to me to be quite a success.  And Bruce, I even saw men shopping!!  😉   I'll be putting it on my calendar for next year too.

  6. I would be very interested if they had FUKUBUKURO DAY for men ! Looks like alot of female gifts, i could be wrong.

  7. well, Yes, Paul, most of the men I saw there were brought along by women for them to tote all the bags! lol
    but some were shopping on their own.. I wanted to interview some of them, but they I couldn't seem to catch one just sitting still….. it was shop and leave! for them.

Leave a Reply

Click for the BBB Business Review of this Travel Agencies & Bureaus in Honolulu HI
Travel Industry Logos