Thousands gamble on ‘fukubukuro’

Thousands of customers, particularly young people, lined up Jan. 2 at a department store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, for the chance to purchase “fukubukuro,” good-luck bags, some of which contained the popular Nike Airmax sports shoe.About 15,000 people were positioned at the entrance of the Ikebukuro branch of the Tobu department store, where many had spent the night in line, when it opened for the new year at 10 a.m. When the doors opened, many scrambled to the sporting goods section on the eighth floor where fukubukuro with the name of the trendy shoe were on sale for 20,000 yen each. Of the 50 available bags, only 35 contained a pair of Airmax.A 30-year-old Tokyo beautician who was among the lucky few to have bought a bag containing the popular shoes, said that although his bag contained the 1996 Airmax model, he wanted the 1995 version because they are more sought after. A junior high school student, who also got hold of a pair, was very pleased, saying the shoes are worth 200,000 yen. The student’s mother, who purchased the bag for her son, sighed that she could not understand what was so good about the shoes.