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, July 4, 2005 Issue No. 62
- What's New (Eating Out on the Cheap!)
- Frugal Friends: (Got a Child Under 3? Check out Blue Sky Tokyo!)
- Frugal Tips (Staying Cool, Frugally Speaking)
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=== Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - July 5th Seminar ===
This coming July, EA-Tokyo is lucky to have well-known
entrepreneur, Fujiyo Ishiguro, President and CEO of Netyear
Group Corporation. For more information please visit the
EA-Tokyo website listed below.
Date/Time: Tuesday, July 5th 7:00 pm
Location: City Club of Tokyo - Maple Room
(Canadian Embassy Complex)
+++ WHAT'S NEW (Eating out on the Cheap!)
Dear Frugal Readers,
One of the funnest parts of living in any large Japanese city,
or Japan for that matter, is experiencing the multitude of
restaurants available. With the exception of deep rural Japan,
most Japanese cities offer an abundance of dining options.
The tricky parts are, of course, finding these restaurants,
and then enjoying your meal without emptying your wallet.
One great way to enjoy a meal out without breaking the bank
is to use one of the many online 'gourmet' websites available.
These websites provide restaurant information such as maps,
menus, and recommendations by area/cuisine. What's more,
they often offer incredible coupons and deals available only
online. There are even, believe it or not, a few English-
language sites available too, such as
There are two smart ways to use these websites: 1) to search
for a bargain at a restaurant of a particular cuisine in a particular
area, or 2) to find coupons to use at a restaurant you already
frequent. The coupons offer surprisingly good deals - such as
10% off the entire bill at checkout, a free beer for all the
members of the party, or a special free desert for the birthday
boy/girl. In some cases, special event or limited time coupons
offering up to 30-50% off may be available at certain restaurants,
with the coupons often sent and used through your mobile phone.
The English-language site with the largest database seems to be
Tabemo. The service is best accessed through a mobile phone
(can also be accessed through the PC), and requires registration.
Once registered, you can search for restaurants on a PC/mobile
phone and also search for coupons. Say, for example, that you
have arranged to meet friends for an early dinner and you want
to eat Indian. A search by location and cuisine in English for
"Today's Coupons" through either the mobile or PC site tells
you that a special 20% off coupon for parties of two or more is
available until tonight (3:00-8:00 PM) at the Indian restaurant
Taj Mahal. Check out here (http://pc.tabemo.com/eng/explain.html)
for a great explanation of the Tabemo 'Mobile Dining Club' service
in English. Very cool, and very frugal!
Another PC-based option is the foreign-language edition of
Gurunabi, the major Japanese-language site in this genre, with
44,000 restaurants listed! The English-language site
(http://www.gnavi.co.jp/en/) is surprisingly easy to navigate
(if charmingly translated), and features search and listing services
for Tokyo-Yokohama, Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe, Kyushu, Nagoya, and Tokyo.
Hundreds of restaurants, menus, and maps are listed, and a large
number of establishments also offer coupons (look for the blue
'Coupon' listing to the right of the restaurant in the search
results). The site is also available in Chinese and Korean. The
Japanese site, of course, features a much larger selection of
restaurants and coupons (http://www.gnavi.co.jp/).
I've used these coupons on a number of occasions, and always been
pleasantly surprised by the results - be they a free desert or
bottle of wine, or a significant chunk off the tab. Make sure
that the English- and Japanese-language sites don't contain
discrepancies in conditions, however - nothing like walking up
to the cash register and getting a 'rude surprise'. Also, it's best
to present your coupon BEFORE you order. Hope this helps you
save a little money while enjoying dining out!
Wendy J. Imura
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+++ FRUGAL FRIENDS
(Got a Child Under 3? Check out Blue Sky Tokyo!) ++++
Welcome to a new section on Frugal Watch: Frugal Friends! In this
corner, we introduce foreign-owned or foreign-friendly businesses
and services around Japan. If you know of a Frugal Friend-worthy
business, or would like to introduce your own business to our nearly
1,000 readers, email Wendy J. Imura (email@example.com)!
**** BLUE SKY TOKYO (http://www.blueskytokyo.com) ********
Today's Frugal Friend is Blue Sky Tokyo, run by Tokyo resident
Iona Macnab. If you have a child under the age of three in Tokyo,
you might have heard of her already! Blue Sky Tokyo is a children's
activity and class center in Setagaya, and Iona also acts a certified
Lactation Consultant, and is a representative for the highly regarded
Maya Slings (TM) brand of baby carrier.
I'll let Iona tell you a little bit more about her business:
"I know how important it is for mothers to get good breast-feeding support,
as so many have difficulties getting started in the early days after the
birth. I am a Lactation Consultant, so I offer monthly breastfeeding classes
in English for expectant parents too. (I also offer free telephone breast-
feeding support after birth.)
"I also know how crucial it is for new mothers to get out of the house and
meet other mothers for friendship and support when they have little babies,
so I have aimed to create a small community through my Little Angels
mother/baby group... I only charge 500 yen a session for that group.
"Of course I hope the mothers enjoy Blue Sky's activities enough that
they would like to come to the Go Baby Go! music and activity groups
when their babies begin to walk, but that is always up to them. Lots of
friendships are made here, and that has a value that money can't buy.
"As any mother will tell you, when your kids are signed up for classes here
in Japan,...there is always the ubiquitous "nyukaikin" "nenkaikin" and then
the "gessha" monthly fee, which very often doesn't allow makeup classes
if the child is sick and misses a class, and doesn't take into account
public holidays, on which lessons are not held, when fixing the price. So
when I started my Go Baby Go! classes, I decided I was definitely not
offering that style, as mothers end up wasting so much money!
"So I don't charge nyukaikin, nenkaikin or gessha. I charge for a whole term
at a time, but mothers only pay for the days on which lessons will be held,
@ 2,000 yen a class. So if a term has 12 Mondays but 2 are public holidays,
that means payment for 10 classes only. I offer a special makeup class at
the end of the term for people who missed a class during the term.
"The Go Baby Go! classes have also expanded to offer mobile classes,
where existing groups of friends or existing mother/baby playgroups can book
a 6-week series of music and activity classes in their own part of Tokyo.
This has proved quite successful too, and more mobile groups will be on
offer after the summer.
"Lastly, through Blue Sky I also sell Maya Wrap Baby slings. Baby slings are
so much more economical and versatile than bulky heavy baby strollers,
especially when using public transport here in Japan. And the baby who is
carried around is much more content and cries less, and develops good
muscle tone from responding to the movements of the adult carrying them.
I offer a range of Maya Wrap sling fabrics for parents in Japan, plus
the opportunity to attend the baby groups and get some breastfeeding
advice all at the same time!"
Iona's Blue Sky Tokyo school provides not only valuable services that
are difficult to find in English in Japan, but also at a frugal-friendly way.
Stop by her website (www.blueskytokyo.com) for more information!
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 materials is
For more details: http://japaninc.com/handbook_seminar3/
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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (Staying Cool, Frugally Speaking)
It's summer, again. The mercury is soaring into the 30s
(hard to imagine for those of us raised in a Fahrenheit
environment, I know), and electricity bills along with them.
Interested in some "cool" ways to beat the heat? Check out
Frugal Japan's Tiptionary entry on staying cool. Some pretty
ingenious methods here!
Subscribers: 954 as of July 4, 2005
+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Wendy J. Imura (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Edited by: JI
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