* * * * * * * * 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, Sunday, May 9, 2004 Issue No. 007


- What's new
- Frugal news
- Frugal tips
- Credits

======================= MAY DAY/M'AIDEZ ==================================

The MAY issue of JI magazine boasts FREE online access!**

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(**For a limited time; thereafter all archived contents will be

>> INVENTOR VENGEANCE: Leo Lewis visits wacky Dr. NaKaMats -- and
shows us the inside story of this year's inventor litigation craze.
Japan's star innovators are suddenly ... making money!

>> BIZARRE BAZAAR: NPR's Lucille Craft shows us how Japan's used-car
auctioneers just might outglamor IT and tech -- and why Yokohama has
become the new home base for selling Japan's junks.

>> PAPER SKY FLIES HIGH: Two American brothers are selling Japan to
the rest of the world.

PLUS: Join us at Anime Fair '04; Find out what McCann Erickson is doing
in Japan; Hop north to Hokkaido's forgotten wealth; Learn how to invest
in the freshly fecund Japan -- and have a whisky on us in Kansai.
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Dear Frugal Readers,

Greetings, and my apologies for taking an unannounced Golden Week break.
I'm back after five days of rest, ready to keep you informed of the latest
and greatest frugal news.

This week, I'd like to take a sneak peek into one of Japan's greatest
hidden frugal resources: the housewife magazine. Even if you don't read
Japanese, these magazines are an interesting cultural experience. With
titles like "Sutekina Okusan" (Lovely Wife) and "Shufu no Tomo" (Housewife's
Friend), these monthlies are packed with recipes, storage tips, DIY projects,
and of course, tons of frugal savings ideas.

Their target audience appears to be youngish (20s, 30s, and maybe early 40s)
housewives with small children and a limited income. Typical articles include
"98 Recipes for Under 100 yen a Serving;" "Cutting your Food Budget down To
10,000 yen a Month" and "Cheapskate Battle: Osaka vs. Tokyo." You'll find
colorful recipes, sample budgets from the "typical housewife" around Japan,
and usually 15 to 20 reader prize drawings for items like a Luis Vuitton
purse or a grab bag of cleaning supplies.

Given this description, why would these magazines be of ANY interest to a
foreigner in Japan? Well, no one knows better than these ladies how to
get by, save money and enjoy life here. They are the literary equivalent
of a wise neighborhood lady who knows all the best shops and sale days --
an amazing source of information.

Second, the magazines offer a fascinating glimpse into the minds of some
of Japan's smartest consumers and savers. You'll not only learn how to budget
the Japanese way, but how to save money too. Some of the articles (such as
how to reduce your monthly insurance premium bill or save for a child's
education) might not be of interest to short-termers, but those of us with
Japaenese spouses or partners will gain valuable knowlege for the long

Finally, the magazines are occasionally good for an "only in Japan" laugh,
such as the June "Sutekina Okusan's" recipe for fried pork balls wrapped
in ... white bread.

Try picking up one of these magazines at the bookstore someday. I usually
buy one every two or three months or so, as the articles tend to be a bit

But even with very limited Japanese, the pictures and illustrations make
it pretty easy to understand what's going on. Plus, for the truly frugal
at heart, what better way to study Japanese than with authentic materials
from the Queens of Japanese cheapskates?

Happy savings, everyone!
Wendy J. Imura

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============================= EVENT =======================================
Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo -- May Seminar

Russell Willis, President of eigoTown.com Limited will be presenting,
"geigoTown: Making A Consumer Website Work in Japan." Come out and learn
how he has generated 80,000 members, 200,000 unique visits per month and
much more.

Date: Tuesday, May 11th | Language: English
http://www.ea-tokyo.com Email: info@ea-tokyo.com


-> Frugal Japan Web site Launched!

(Warning - shameless plug!) After nearly six months under development,
the Frugal Japan Web site is officially ready to go! Designed as a
companion to the Frugal Japan YahooGroup, FrugalJapan.com features an
extensive frugal resource listing of books and web sites, as well as a
frugal "tiptionary," upated monthly. Tips are taken (anonymously) from the
Frugal Japan YahooGroups archive and other resources, and are organized in
a topical, easy-to-use format.

May's topic is "Clothing," and offers handy tips on shopping, laundry and
others. Finally, if you're interested, you can read up on the "whys" of
Frugal Japan and how we got started.

We welcome your comments, feedback, and questions sent either through the
Web site, or this Frugal Watch newsletter.

Please take time to visit!

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frugaljapan-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to subscribe.



*According to a survey of 600 Japanese housewives asked
about the methods they use to save money every month,
c/o "Sutekina Okusan," June 2004:

1) Direct-withdrawal savings from bank account
on payday (291 persons)
(Some 75 percent of housewives employ this method. As one says:
"You never even know its gone!")
2) "Leftover savings" -- Save what's left over from the budget
at the end of the month (177 persons)
3) Send the wife to work! (147 persons)
(In Japan, single-income households are still the norm for
most families, so part-time work is viewed as an option for
increasing savings, instead of making ends meet.)
4) Direct-withdrawal from paycheck (144 persons)
5) Saving loose change (123 persons)
(500 yen savings banks appear especially popular.)
6) Set a savings goal to work towards (120 persons)
7) "Save the difference" (60 persons)
(For example, saving an amount equal to the difference between buying
an item on sale vs. full price, or the difference between a meal eaten
out and one cooked at home.)
8) Keep a household expense log (48 persons)
9) Use an envelope system to separate money for different expenses
(45 persons)
10) Rewards for savings (42)
(For example, using 10 percent of the money saved during a month for a
treat to reward oneself.)




Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI editor

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