* * * * * * * * 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, October 3rd, 2004 Issue No. 27
- What's new
- Weekly Bargain Roundup
- Frugal tips
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========================= EA Event ====================================
========= Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - October Seminar =========
This month's EA-Tokyo seminar introduces Naota Hamaguchi, President and
CEO of JCI Inc, an international consulting firm assisting non-Japanese
companies in conducting business with Japanese companies and assisting
Japanese companies in expanding their businesses overseas.
His presentation is entitled, "How to succeed as an entrepreneur in Japan."
For more information please visit the EA-Tokyo website.
Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct. 5th at 7:00 pm City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room
(Canadian Embassy Complex)
Language: English http://www.ea-tokyo.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
+++ WHAT'S NEW
Dear Frugal Readers,
Have you taken the time to look at your shoes lately? For
the frugal foreigner in Japan, shoes can be a huge headache -- from the lack
of sizes available and high import taxes on leather, to the wear and tear
Tokyo streets take on your feet. What's a Frugalite to do?
The first problem is finding shoes. In case you were not aware, standard
women's shoe sizes in Japan range from 22.5-24.5 cm. For men, the shoe
sizes usually stop at around 28cm, or sometimes 29 cm. If you have feet
larger than that, your options are limited to one of the few stores for large sizes,
mail order within Japan or abroad, or simply stocking up at home. The prices
for high-quality leather shoes in Japan are typically 2-3x those abraod,
if not more. That said, I have found a few good quality shoe
sources in Japan. Check the Weekly Bargain Roundup for the links. While still
in the 6000-9000/pair range, shoes from these sources are still cheaper
than those mail ordered from abroad or purchased at a specialty retail shop. In my
experience, the purchase of a sturdy good-fitting pair of shoes (even if
expensive) might save money in the long run if the shoes last for years.
Once you've found a good pair of shoes, it's vital to keep them in good shape.
Fortunately, Japan is blessed with an abundance of shoe repair shops,
many of them conveniently located in subway stations, outside large
supermarkets, or tucked in small shops. Even department store shoe departments
can point you in the right direction.
To do a "Frugal Shoe Check," take off your shoes, and look at them at eye
level. Are the heels worn down in a particular way (usually to the right or
left)? Is the top stiching worn or broken? Is the leather fading or torn?
Are the toes scuffed? A good shoe repair shop can address all of these
I resole my two workhorse pairs of shoes every year, usually for about 700-Y800
a pair. I've had my favorite red leather loafers restiched and
colored, recovering another two years' worth of wear for 1600. Finally, I
even had an old pair of black pumps made over -- resoled, leather siding on the heel replaced,
toe restiched and burnished to a fine shine. At 2800, that was an expensive
shoe repair, but still 1/5th of the cost of a new pair of shoes. In short,
paying a little for maintenance of shoes seems (for me at least) to lengthen
their lifespan significantly.
In the end, it's a question of cost. Buying a pair of shoes in Japan might
cost twice what the same pair would cost at home. If you are headed home
already and can purchase appopriate shoes in a limited amount of time
(no impluse buying), then by all means go ahead. But for those without that
option, taking a look at the domestic choices might not be a bad idea.
Wendy J. Imura
PS: For tennis shoe tips, check out the Frugal Tips list at the end of
PPS: For ladies who don't need to spend every day in dainty flats or
pumps, try looking at the men's department in discount shoe stores.
I've gotten good deals on casual shoes (sneakers) for 25.0cm sizes here.
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+++ WEEKLY BARGAIN ROUNDUP ++++
This week's Bargain Roundup returns with ...
Larger-Size Shoe Sources in Japan
1) Womens' Shoes: Benebis Mail Order by Belle Maison
(See website here: http://www.bellne.com/pc/special/benebis/bnbs_top.htm)
This high-quality mail order company makes a variety of sturdy yet
fashionable shoes, mostly in leather designs for dress and casual attire.
Their catalog sizes on most styles go up to 25.5 or 26.0 cm, and a few
shoes might be even larger. Their shoes also have a large range of
widths, from D through 4E. Most pairs range in price from 4000-8000,
with a few more expensive. What's more, these shoes are extremely
comfortable -- with special pressure points and padding to make
standing or walking long distances much easier. They also have
great boots for winter. I own 5 pairs of these shoes, and will probably
buy more. Good quality for a more reasonable price than downtown
Tokyo shoe shops and department stores.
2) Mens and Women's Shoes: Shoes-Ten
(Japanese website here: http://shoes-ten.com/)
This big-girls and big-boys shoe store has both an online and brick-and-
mortar presence, and also sends out mail-order catalogs for ladies' and
men's shoes. Prices range between 5000-14,000, with the higher-end products
being brand-name shoes and sneakers. They stock sizes from 25cm or higher
for women, and 27cm or higher for men. One example was a pair of 30cm black converse
trainers for 5,044. The store itself is located in West Shinjuku, a
two-minute walk from the Shinjuku-nishi Station Exit D-5.
The store holds a sale twice annually. (Again, while the prices are not cheap,
the relative costs must be considered vs. the other options:
importing from abroad, or traveling home to buy shoes.)
3) The third option is special shopping at outlet malls (such as
Machida's Grandberry Mall) or Costco, which occaisonally receives shipments
of larger sized shoes. The outlet malls feature familiar brand names and
often familiar prices, while Costco may have Kirkland brand shoes or
whatever shipment happened to arrive. Your timing has to be right, but
there is the possibility of some good bargains.
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+++ FRUGAL TIPS
Tips for Making Tennis Shoes Last
(Edited from http://www.epinions.com/content_1195679876)
I would love to tell you that you could care for your tennis shoes with
good old soap and water. While this may work on some tennis shoes it will
not work on all of them. Some tennis shoes require heavy duty cleaning to
remove all sorts of dirt or stains that you may have gotten on your shoes.
Regardless of how you clean or what you're cleaning your tennis shoes with,
you will never be able to restore the entire shoe to its original appearance.
You may come close depending on the product you use, but restoring your
tennis shoes to mint condition is close to impossible.
So what do you do? My first recommendation is to wash them off with water.
Your shoes don't need hot water but warm water will not hurt them. Most
tennis shoes are made of synthetics that don't mind getting wet, so washing
them by hand is just fine. Leather shoes usually clean well with soap and
water however too much scrubbing can rub off certain types of leather.
Canvas tennis shoes are easy to clean but it's important that you clean them
shortly after getting them dirty. Just make sure you rinse them well and then
dry them properly.
The drying process is the secret! Usually I would never go against my
Mother's recommendations but putting your tennis shoes in the Dryer is a No!
No! Forget about the fireplace, space heater or oven. I recommend a
well-ventilated area at room temperature.
Next remove the sock-liner, orthotics, shoe pad, or whatever is inside of
your tennis shoe. Then stuff both tennis shoes with white porous paper or a
quick dry towel. Some people use newspaper but I don't recommend it since
newspapers can bleed ink; I suggest using white paper towels.
I also suggest that you unlace your tennis shoes and hand wash shoe strings
separately. If you really want them to look almost knew you could purchase a
new pair of shoestrings for under $3.00 dollars.
Finally, storage of your athletic shoe is as important as cleaning them,
keep them in a dry, cool place. You can also purchase wooden or plastic shoe
shapers to insert in your shoes to maintain the shape. (Ed.'s note: These
are available at 100 shops.)
+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Wendy J. Imura (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Edited by: JI
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