FW-41 -- Oni-Yome, or Why We're Not THAT Frugal

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:

* * * * * * * * 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, January 23, 2005 Issue No. 41
+++ INDEX

- What's New (Oni-Yome, or Why We're Not THAT Frugal)
- Weekly Bargain Roundup (Dehumidifiers)
- Frugal tips (Calculate Highway Tolls/Trip Length Online)
- Credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW

Dear Frugal Readers,

Would you believe me if I told you that, hidden among the
Vuitton-toting, Gucci-loving OLs and gadget-freak salarymen,
there was a hidden subculture of hyper-frugal folks in Japan?
You might have seen them in your daily life: the housewives
trekking to five different supermarkets to get the best deal
on eggs, or the Osaka 'obatarians' jostling into position for
a prime spot at the year-end sale. Perhaps you even live with
one: a husband who insists on keeping the heat OFF despite
sub-freezing temperatures inside, a mother-in-law who saves
every plastic tray and rubber band she's ever bought, or a
wife who gives you 500 yen in spending money... for the week?

One Frugal Japan member had a very insightful comment about
the hyper-frugal tribe: "I wonder if [those] who complain about
a 5,000-10,000-yen electricity bill come from what my
husband calls the "oni yome" tradition. You know, the housewives
that have a 3,500-yen electric bill, a 3,000-yen gas bill, and
1,500-yen water bill every month. Then they only spend like
25,000 yen on food for four people - per month. And then they
give their DHs plastic wrap to keep their hands warm in the
winter so as not to waste money, water, and soap on gloves!

"It seems that there is a population out there that prides
itself on frugality in certain areas like utilities and food,
so that money can be spent elsewhere like designer items or
trips or for the future dream of buying a house or opening a
business. I know there are at least two 4-color magazines
dedicated to this housewife challenge..."
(Taken with author's permission from a separate mailing list post.)

At Frugal Watch, we support frugality wholeheartedly. Saving
money, eliminating waste, and in general avoiding needless
consumption are all positive things, especially if you are
saving with a goal in mind. But in the end, a certain amount
of consideration must be given to quality of life, health, and
other issues. Eating a 100-yen cup ramen every night for dinner
is certainly cheap, but how will you feel after a month? A
few hours of well-timed heat might add 2,000 yen/month to your
electric bill during winter, but is it worth it to you to
avoid shivering every morning? Do you have time to implement
hyperfrugal tips, like filling plastic bottles with water and
putting them on your balcony to warm the water for dishwashing?

These are all personal decisions. We must all draw the line
at where our own inner 'oni yome' comes out. I just think it
important to be reminded every once in a while that "moderation
in all things" (including frugality) is important.

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

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+++ BARGAIN ROUNDUP +++

Today's topic is dehumidifiers. You might be wondering:
DE-humidifying? I thought I needed to INCREASE moisture
in the air during winter. Well, if you have a well-insulated
and well-heated house, you do. But if (like most of us)
you don't, a dehumidifier is a good way to eliminate the
dampness and condensation that result from the temperature
difference between inside and outside. Here are a few
good-looking models. (A dehumidifier is called a
"dasshitsuki" in Japanese.)

DRY-BOY MINI (3,500 yen)
Unlike other dehumidifiers that run on electricity, this
compact object uses a refillable pebble-like material to
absorb moisture. It's perfect for compact areas like a closet,
shoe closet, or under the sink. It's cordless, rechargeable,
and features a sensor to automatically shut it on and off.
The pebbles usually only require changing once every month or
so, depending on the season. Check out the website below for
a good price on the Dry-Boy Mini and the pebbles.
http://www.rakuten.co.jp/copa/486016/491803/#454974

MD-200P(V) "Moisture Absorbtion Machine" (Mori Electronics)
8,800 yen
The lowest priced among larger electric models I
found. It can suck 200mL a day, and features a 850 mL tank.
For a single room, or someone not needing that much capacity,
this might be a good choice. Mori Electronics is a
reliable "off-brand" manufacturer of small home electronics.
http://www.rakuten.co.jp/e-first/239953/213371/213374/#234380

EUPA TSI-DH6 (12,800 yen)
This low-priced full-power electronic model can suck 5 liters
of water a day on 50 watts of power, or 6 liters on 60 watts.
It has a clear, 3.5L tank. It appears to be portable and
fairly simple to operate. Amazon.co.jp is currently running
a 15 percent cash back promotion on this item, and delivery
within Japan is free!
http://www.amazon.co.jp/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00064LI4C/
qid=1106454611/br=1-5/ref=br_lf_k_4/250-9835010-3897844

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+++ FRUGAL TIPS

Going somewhere by car in Japan? Need to find out how
much the tolls will be? Frugal Encyclopedia's Heather
Fukase gives a great online resource tip:

"If you will be traveling on the expressway and you're
traveling on a budget, the Japan Highways site has a great
trip planner. It's called "Highway Navigator," and by
inputting your nearest expressway interchange and that
of your destination you can see at a glance both the estimated
length of your trip (in kilometers and hours) and the cost in
tolls. The URL is search.jhnet.go.jp/route/hinavi.html.
The site is only in Japanese, but there is an explanation
and tutorial on the Japan Highways English site at
www.jhnet.go.jp/english_new/."

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+++ ABOUT US
STAFF
Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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