* * * * * * * * 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 10, 2005 Issue No. 75
- Frugal Favorites (Frugal Shoe Check)
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+++ FRUGAL FAVORITES (Frugal Shoe Check)
(Note: While Frugal Watch author Wendy Jonas Imura is on
maternity leave, please enjoy a "Blast From the Past" - favorites
from past Frugal Watch issues. Wendy will resume new Frugal
Watch content in late October 2005.)
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. Standard women's shoe sizes in
Japan range from 22.5-24.5 cm. For men, shoe sizes usually stop
at 28cm, or sometimes 29 cm. If you have larger feet, you are
limited to one of the few stores for large sizes, mail order within
Japan or abroad, or stocking up while back home. The prices for
high-quality leather shoes in Japan are typically 2-3x those abroad,
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 6,000-9,000 yen/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 the shoe department in a large retail store 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 stitching worn or broken? Is the leather fading
or torn? Are the toes scuffed? A good shoe repair shop can address
all of these concerns.
I resole my two workhorse pairs of shoes every year, usually for
about 700-800 yen a pair. I've had my favorite red leather loafers
restitched and colored, recovering another two years' worth of wear
for 1,600 yen. Finally, I even had an old pair of black pumps made
over -- resoled, leather siding on the heel replaced, toe restitched and
burnished to a fine shine. At 2,800 yen, 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 to lengthen their
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 appropriate shoes in
a limited amount of time (no impulse 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
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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Edited by: JI
Copyright 2005 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.