People have flocked to department stores in Japan to buy New Year bargain packages known as lucky bags.
A store in Osaka opened earlier than normal on Monday morning. 7,000 people were waiting outside before it opened its doors. Staffers had prepared 50,000 lucky bags.
Beside only selling goods in the bargain events, department stores have been working hard to sell bags that let buyers have various special experiences.
A bag that sold for almost 700 dollars includes tableware for a baby's first meal, clothing for its first shrine visit and a photography session. Another with a price tag of more than 5,000 dollars features an imported camera and the photo session with a traditional female entertainer in the ancient capital of Kyoto.
Buyers of the bag can receive instructions from a professional photographer.
In Ofunato, northeastern Japan, which was hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a makeshift shopping district opened for its last New Year sales.
Temporary shops set up after the disaster will be demolished after 5 years of business. Permanent facilities are scheduled to be completed in April.
The United States, Japan and other countries surrounding North Korea are on high alert over the nation's provocative actions, including the possibility it would conduct its sixth nuclear test, as Tuesday marked the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army. (the-japan-news.com)
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to appoint Masayoshi Yoshino, a former State Minister of the Environment, as the new minister in charge of rebuilding areas hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (NHK)