A robot like you

2 January 2010

On 2 January, department stores in Japan re-opened. The most popular items on this very busy day are the fukubukuro (福袋), which loosely translates as ‘bag of fortune’ or &lsuqo;bag of good luck’.

The New Year being the New Year, everything seems to be blessed with a touch of fortune in Japan. A fukubukuro contains a number of items, and usually represents a good return on the money spent. It used to be the case that a fukubukuro was a bag of surprise too, and the customer had no idea what items were inside, so there was always a risk that you ended up buying something you didn’t need or particularly want. More recently though, this has changed and you know what you’re buying.

One department store chain, the Sogo-Seibu group, is selling fukubukuro priced at 20.1 million yen. In Japan, large numbers are divided by 4 digits rather than 3 (so 10000 is 1,0000 instead of 10,000), so it reads as 2010 (ten thousands), just like the year.

What do you get for spending that much amount of money? A robot just like you. It will take half a year before delivery, and it will be custom-made by a robot manufacturing company based in Tokyo. They will use silicon and 11 bits of the body, such as the eyes, neck and elbows will move, and apparently it will be very human-like. This offer is limited to two people, and if there are more than 2 customers willing to pay the amount, lots will be drawn.

Anyone tempted?