While the Chinese ring in the new year with lion dances and gau, the Japanese celebrate with a tradition called Fukubukuro. It’s based on the Japanese superstition of starting off the new year with a clean house or a clean slate, and for businesses, that means selling last year’s merchandise at discount prices.

It’s no surprise that Ala Moana Shopping Center hosts this popular shopping tradition. A majority of its customers happen to be visiting from Japan, so they know all about the deals to be had. For the businesses, however, this tradition involves more than just posting “Sale” signs around the store; they fill “mystery bags,” as the word Fukubukuro translates to, with unknown items and sell them for up to 50-percent off.

To some, it may seem like a way for business to get rid of their junk. But you’d be surprised at what you might find in those grab bags. More than 50 stores at Ala Moana participate in the Japanese tradition, with the list seeming to grow every year. The stores range from clothing to toys and offer something for every shopper.

The Royal Hawaiian Center and DFS Galleria in Waikiki host their own versions of Fukubukuro as well. Participating merchants and restaurants include Allure Swimwear, Island Olive Oil, Laki Hawaiian Design and many more.

If you plan to check out a Fukubukuro at one of these Hawaii shopping venues, then get there early! Lines start forming well before the Jan. 1 shopping day, weaving in and out of the mall like a second Black Friday.


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