* * * * * * * * 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 29 2004, Issue No. 022
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- What's new
- Frugal Bargain Roundup!
- Frugal tips
===================== JOURNALISM INTERNSHIPS ==========================
Japan Inc. magazine is offering a limited number of journalism
internships to qualified individuals. This is a unique
opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in creating the content,
developing the design and shaping the vision of a major, independent
business and tech-oriented monthly English-language publication.
Qualified individuals seeking this opportunity must be Tokyo-based
and fluent in English. (At least some knowledge of the Japanese
language is a significant asset.)
Interested parties should send relevant resumes, samples and contact
information to Maria Deutsch at:
======================== Setting up a Company ==========================
Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar
Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 12 start-up companies in
Japan will be giving an English-language seminar and Q&A on
starting up a company in Japan. This is an ideal
opportunity to find out what is involved, and to ask
specific questions that are not normally answered in
business books. All material is Japan-focused.
Time/date: 10:30am, Saturday, September 11, 2004
Place: 7-8-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107
Price: 15,000 yen prepaid, 20,000 yen at the door
Included: Lunchbox, refreshments, handouts
Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org, in English or Japanese.
+++ WHAT'S NEW
Dear Frugal Readers,
First of all, I wanted to thank several of your for your excellent
comments in response to last week's Frugal Watch. One reader rightly
pointed out that I had missed one of the best bargains around in terms
of calling: Yahoo BB!'s IP telephony service. At Y2.5 per minute, this
is unquestionably some of the cheapest telephone service around.
Note, however, that BB Phone is usually bundled for free with Yahoo
BB!'s ADSL Internet service, and without it, the monthly service fee is
Y1,508. As the service still requires a phone line, you also must
maintain your NTT access line, incurring the monthly NTT basic charge of
around Y1,800. So, IP telephony, while cheap, still requires some added
expense if you don't get it as part of your ADSL service.
While on the topic of Internet access, I thought I'd delve a little into
the issue of wireless Internet access. Also known as "WiFi" in English or
"musen LAN" (wireless LAN) in Japanese, wireless Internet is an excellent
choice for both in-home browsing and browsing on the go. Even more
interesting from a frugal standpoint is the trend towards free wireless
"hotspots," or locations where wireless-enabled notebooks and PC devices
can access the Internet for free.
Our newest laptop has a build-in wireless modem and "finder," which is
software that automatically locates what wireless networks are within
range. (You can also add a wireless modem PC card to your existing PC.)
I first discovered this unique attribute when I went online at Narita
Airport. Y500 (using your credit card) will buy you a day-pass good
within any of Narita's terminals. Haneda, Kansai, and other airports
offer similar services. JR East also offers a paid service through
mobile Internet providers.
In Japan, YahooBB continues to offer free wireless Internet at some
McDonald's, Starbucks, Mister Donuts and other locations. You have to
sign up online for a special ID, but for the moment this service
Melco, one of the largest manufacturers of wireless routing equipment,
has also set up a subsidiary called "Freespot Association," which
actively recruits stores, restaurants, cafes, and other locations to
join their "free Hotspot" program. The Freespot Association homepage
(www.freespot.net) lists 183 places in Tokyo alone with
free wireless Internet access, searchable by map.
Finally, there is wireless mooching. Three times over the last few
weeks I have been in locations where someone else's wireless LAN
system has been strong enough for my PC to pick-up, and use, the
signal. In a country like Japan, where buildings are quite close
together and houses are made of flimsy wood, I'm sure this can
happen elsewhere as well. Just be careful using an unsecured
connection -- we picked up some nasty viruses mooching wireless
access in San Francisco a few weeks back. As for the ethics of
wireless mooching -- you're welcome to debate this at the Frugal
Japan Yahoo Group!
Wendy J. Imura
PS: Like blogs? Read Japanese? Try this Tokyo Web Hotspot blog on
for starters: http://wada.cocolog-nifty.com/hotspot/
================= LOCALIZATION SURVEY =================================
Japan Inc. magazine is developing a story (for its October
issue) on the localization and translation needs of foreign
companies in Japan. We invite you to fill out the survey,
and help us get the data needed to analyze the market.
To provide some incentive, Okamura Corporation has donated
a FEEGO chair as prize to one lucky respondent.
+++ FRUGAL BARGAIN ROUNDUP!
(Today's theme 鋒ifty Gadgets for the Lingering Heat!)
*USB Notebook PC Cooler
Believe it or not, your PC suffers too when stuck indoors in the blazing
sun. My PC's internal temperature was a blistering 52C the other day.
This convenient USB PC cooler is designed to cheaply and effectively
cool down your notebook PC -- just dock your PC in, plug in the USB cord,
and away you go.
On sale at Rakuten.co.jp for Y2,840 (vs Y4,000 regular price)
*Twinbird Electric Ice Shaver (Kakigori Maker)
No, this one doesn稚 use a USB port, but it is pretty cool. Just take ice
cubes from your freezer (or bought in a bag from the conbini), throw them
in the well, close the lid, and you're on your way. Add strawberry syrup,
chocolate sauce, or anything, really, and enjoy a traditional Japanese
summer treat ... quickly.
On sale at Rakuten.co.jp for Y2,980 (vs Y7,500 MSRP)
*Mini Egg-Shaped Refrigerator EGGLUT
Yes, it's unbelievable, but they've made a mini-refrigerator (about 10L
size) in the shape of an egg. And it emits a cute blue light. At Y11,000,
it's hard to call this a frugal bargain, but it is unlike anything I've
ever seen before. Will store a six-pack of soda plus a few PET bottles.
On sales at Best Denki (Yahoo Shops) for Y11,000
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+++ FRUGAL TIPS
Fill in Flooring Scratches, Save Major Bucks!
If you've ever had to leave an apartment in Japan and worried
if any of your deposit money would come back because of
the damage your furniture has done to the flooring? Well,
Sometimes the little scratches on hardwood floors can be filled in using
a brown or black wax-like crayon sold in hardware stores or Tokyu Hands
(called Kakurenbo). Simply match the color of crayon to your flooring
using a keitai camera for a picture is handy), and shave off a few
centimeters of the wax. Press the wax into the scratch. Then, using a
flat surface (like the edge of a ruler), shave the filled-in scratch so
that the filled-in portion is level with the floor. Then shine with
an old rag.
It might sound like a lot of effort, but two hours of work on our
floor (scratched up heavily by chair legs) made the scratches invisible.
We saved over Y30,000 in reflooring costs, making for a much higher
recoup on our deposit. At Y15,000/hour, that痴 not a bad investment of
time. The wax crayon, by the way, retails for about Y400.
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