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.


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