FW-21

* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, Sunday, August 22, 2004 Issue No. 021

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+++ INDEX

- What's new
- Frugal Bargain Roundup!
- Frugal tips
- Credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW

Dear Frugal Readers,

Feel like saving some money on your phone bill? I do, too! I've
lately gotten fed up with Y10,000 or higher bills for international
calls from my supposed "discount" service. It's not that I talk on
the phone that much -- it's just that I've yet to fully take advantage
of the discount services offered. In this week's Frugal Watch, I'd
like to explore three discount options for long-distance service.

First, some explanation. As you may know, the domestic, long-distance
and international calling markets in Japan were liberalized in 2001,
and the decades-long monopoly of NTT and KDDI was broken up. Through the
oddly named "My Line" service, you can literally register for three
or four different service providers for one line, although NTT still
maintains the rights to access lines (or home phone lines). The are a
wide variety of discount options, but today I will focus on three:
a bulk service buying company, a new telephone card option from Costco,
and cable phone.

First, let me introduce T-1 Communications, a local foreign-owned
company that purchases long-distance (both overseas and within Japan)
telephone service in bulk and offers it to customers at a discount.
The rates offered (Y10.5/minute to the US 24hrs a day) appear quite
reasonable, and no registration or monthly fees are charged. Payment
is by credit card, and registration quite simple, with excellent English
customer support. I currently subscribe to T-1's cell phone service
(you can register any number), and am very pleased. Check out
www.T-1.co.jp for more information.

Phone cards (such as the Brastel and Global Card) are also an option,
and attractive in terms of cost-control as they are prepaid. Rates
for cards vary, but are among the lowest available. Costco recently
started offering a particularly attractive MCI Calling card, with Y7.6
rates per minute for fixed-line to fixed-line calls from Japan to the
US any time of day. To get more information, call 0120-98-1022 (from
8:00-24:00). Note that, depending on your provider, you may not be
able to use your phone card from your individual phone. The Costco
card is available at Costco locations nationwide.

Finally, I was surprised to find that some local cable operators
(such as local Kansai powerhouse, J-COM) are offering bundled cable,
high-speed Internet and telephone service. The bundled service,
starting at Y9900 per month, might not be the best option for everyone,
but the low-local rates and possibility of totally cutting ties with
NTT even for local service (and thus avoiding NTT's basic monthly charge)
is extremely attractive. In some locales, you can even keep your existing
phone number. Check out J-COM Hokuetsu's excellent English site
for more details on the service:
http://www.jcom.co.jp/hokusetsu/english.html

It goes without saying that other options (such as callback
services or IP telephony) are worthy of exploration, but I will have
to address this another week!

Frugally Yours,
Wendy J. Imura

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========================================================================

+++ FRUGAL BARGAIN ROUNDUP!
(Today's theme -- Lord of the Rings Trilogy DVD Set!)

*Lord of the Rings Collector's Edition Boxed Set DVDs
Includes the Collector's Edition DVDs of all three LOTR
DVDs, with bonus clips.
Amazon.co.jp Price: Y11,844 (20 percent off listed price)
Features Japanese subtitles. Region 2 DVD.

*Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy (Wide-Screen
Edition)
Includes Bonus featurettes and clips on each DVD.
Amazon.com Price: $58.49 (Y6,375 @ Y109/$) -
30 percent off listed price, almost 50 percent off
Amazon.co.jp price.
Features only English subtitles, Region 1 DVD.
(For US and Canada only, or for multi-region DVD players)
International Shipping must also be considered.

*Lord of the Rings Collector's Edition Boxed Set DVDs
Yahoo Auction Price: Ranging from Y8,750 slightly used
to Y11,500 opened.
23 Auctions Currently opened, some with 2-3 days remaining.
To search: Go to www.yahoo.co.jp. Click "Auction" in
katekana, then type in "Lord of the Rings Collector's
Edition" in katakana in the "Search" box.
(Check Amazon.co.jp front page for spelling, and then
cut and paste.)

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+++ FRUGAL TIPS

Enjoy recycle shops? Traditionally, these frugal treasure troves
can be rather hard to find, as they are usually tucked away
in small shops or suburban locations.

However, you should try visiting Green Marche, Japan's first
recycling mall, in Odaiba. The mall features
32 recycle shops ofering a variety of goods, including
clothes, electric appliances, furniture and more. Green Marche
is located only two minutes on foot from the Telecom Center
Station on the Yurikomamome Line near Odaiba. Open daily
from 10am to 9pm, call 03-3599-3939 for more information,
or check out the Web site (Japanese only) at:
http://www.green-marche.com/
Enjoy!

>>>>---------------------------------------------------<

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+++ ABOUT US

STAFF
Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: Roland Kelts (editors@japaninc.com)

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