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, August 23, 2005 Issue No. 68
- What's New (The New 3Rs)
- Frugal Friends: (Two Paper Cranes: Uniquely Japanese Paper Items)
- Frugal Tips (DVDs, CDs Can Be Shipped at Book Rate)
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+++ WHAT'S NEW (The New 3Rs)
Dear Frugal Readers,
Most people can tell you what the "old" Three Rs stand for: reading,
writing, and arithmetic. Lately, however, I've been thinking that 'new'
3Rs are equally worthy of our attention: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
While this mantra might seem a little faded some 30 years after the
first Earth Day, it can make your daily life in Japan much simpler,
and more frugal.
Why? Well, living in Japan (particularly urban Japan) presents three
unique challenges: 1) a lack of storage and living space, 2) expense,
and 3) complex/difficult procedures for getting rid of used items and
trash. How many of you have stuff crammed into every nook and
corner of your sliding door 'fusuma' closets? Or have had to PAY
someone to take your used furniture and somewhat large garbage
away (in many cities, this is the case)? I'm guessing I'm not alone
in answering 'yes.' But adjusting your lifestyle to one focused on the
new 3Rs can make things a lot easier.
First, recycling. I'm not just talking about cans, bottles, and
newspapers here (though you should be doing this already). Are
clothing, books, CDs, DVDs, electronic appliances, or anything else
gathering dust in your apartment? Anything you haven't used, read, or
worn in 18 months or more, but is still in good condition? Why are you
holding on to it? Unless it's got memorial or financial value, wouldn't it
be better to pass that item on to someone who could use it? Try
Freecycling (www.freecycle.org) or a flea market, organize a swap
meet, or just ask around on an online group if someone can use
something for free. If you have a large number of items (20
English-language books or 10-15 items of children's clothing), try
offering the items as a bundled group: people are more willing to take
it that way.
Another tip: if your old clothing, towels, sheets, books/papers, dishes,
and glassware are really beyond hope and you need to trash them, try
asking your neighbors when the next "haihin kaishu" (recyclable item)
collection day is. Although there is usually only one collection day a
month, local elementary schools and children's welfare associations
collect the used items and sell them. The proceeds are used to stage
festivals, improve local playground equipment, and to fund similar things.
It's worth asking!
Next, reducing. Before purchasing something new or on a whim (or even
accepting someone's old items), ask yourself: "Do I really need this?"
"Do I have space for it?" If the answer is 'no' or 'maybe not,' then perhaps
you should put off the purchase. If you really, really want the item, then
why not get rid of something (or two things!) first before buying something
else? You both free up space in your apartment or house, and (in the end)
might save some money. Trips home are particularly dangerous: many of
us (myself included) stock on clothing, shoes, books, and other things
while visiting our homelands, only to arrive back with tons of new stuff
and nowhere to put it! The next time you travel home, think carefully about
what you'll bring back.
Finally, reusing. This is an area where I am really trying to improve, but
there are many 'hidden' ways you can reuse items you already own.
Making your own household cleaners, and using old spray bottles from
commercial cleaners, is a good place to start. Old T-shirts, boxer shorts,
cloth diapers (relatively clean ones!), sheets, and towels can be cut into
square rags and used for 'zokin' or dust rags. The backside of old
calendars, newspaper inserts, and junk mail makes great notepaper,
children's drawing paper, and even wrapping paper for presents sent
overseas. Even the free tissues packets you get outside of Japanese
stations can be 'repackaged' in reusable tissue boxes or covers. In this
category, your creativity and ingenuity are often the best resources.
Be sure and share some good "reusing" tips with us at Frugal Watch
In the next week, why not devote some time to thinking about how you
can apply the new '3Rs' in your life? While it might require more time
and effort, in the end I think the rewards are well worth it.
Wendy J. Imura
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+++ FRUGAL FRIENDS (Two Paper Cranes: Uniquely Japanese Paper Items) ++++
Welcome to a new section on Frugal Watch: Frugal Friends! In this
corner, we introduce foreign-owned or foreigner-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 more than one
thousand readers, email Wendy J. Imura (email@example.com)!
**** Two Paper Cranes (www.twopapercranes.com) ***********
While not a direct introduction, I thought I'd feature a unique
online e-commerce site devoted to Japanese paper products - Two Paper
Cranes. Started by Nicky Biwaki, a resident of Japan since 1987. Two
Paper Cranes offers a unique and attractive range of Japanese paper products
at affordable prices. As Nicky's website elaborates:
"Nicky became interested in Japanese paper, particularly yuzen washi when
she started to make greeting cards with a Japanese theme."
"On trips to Europe and the UK Nicky found a significant lack of Japanese
paper products at reasonable prices and in appropriate sizes and packaging.
This prompted Nicky to take her card-making business one step further,
exporting Japanese paper and embellishments direct from Japan, and leading
to the birth of Two Paper Cranes in 2004."
Two Paper Cranes offers shipping of Japanese paper, mizuhiki cords,
embellishments, ephemera, collage sheets, books, and gift certificates in
a safe, fully-automated online environment. The items, while useful in card
making, would also be attractive gifts for scrapbookers.
Interested in Nicky's business? Visit www.twopapercranes.com
to check it out!
PS: Last week's Frugal Friend Solveig Boergen had a short addendum to last
week's notice: "I should also mention how FRUGAL hosting a Portrait Party
is....the host of those parties gets 15 % of what his/her guests order as
credit towards her order. So with some luck, he/she could get all her session
plus orders for free. Also, it is never too early to think about X-mas
presents! Every order of photo jewelry and bags received until November 1,
2005, gets 10% off." (Wow!)
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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (DVDs/CDs Can Be Shipped Book Rate)
Do you frequently send books, CDs, or DVDs within Japan or
overseas? Were you aware that there is a special 'book parcel
rate' (or 'sasshi kotsuzumi')? Were you aware that you
can also send items this way cash-on-delivery, or chakubarai?
If you've sold or are lending books, DVDs, CDs, magazines, or
other similar material to someone within Japan, and they are
paying shipping, ask the Post Office to send it by "sasshi
kotsuzumi." You cannot include a letter or note, and the package
must be open when you ship it to allow inspection of the contents,
but the savings can be tremendous (50-60%) when compared with the
traditional YuPack or regular parcel service used for COD or regular
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Wendy J. Imura (email@example.com)
Edited by: JI
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