* * * * * * * * 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, July 18, 2004 Issue No. 017


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

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Dear Frugal Readers,

Greetings, frugal friends! With the officially declared end to the rainy
season, I hope everyone is starting to make some earnest efforts to enjoy
the summer. Tokyo, and even online expat groups, all seem to quiet down
from late July to mid-August, as many people take advantage of school
vacations to travel home or elsewhere. Hopefully these (definitely)
greener pastures are cooler! However, for those stuck in Japan like
me, without the money or paid leave to esacpe for the summer, a trip
within Japan can be a fun option.

Trips to Northern Japan (Hokkaido in particular) might provide a respite
from the oppressive heat, while a trip to Okinawa, Kyushu, and even Izu
penninsula can provide access to some great beaches. However, sometimes
airfare and trainfare within Japan can even surpass the price of off-
season international flights! While Japan's major domestic airlines, JAL
and ANA, have long offered advance booking discounts (Tokuwari), people
without the luxury of planning so far in advance get stuck high and dry.

Well, a new set of discount fares from ANA and JAL might help.
Called "totszuen waribiki" ('all-of-a-sudden discount') at ANA and
"taiimu waribiki" ('fire sale discounts') at JAL, these fares are for
flights booked any time between 10 and 3 days before departure. Both
companieshave several restrictions on the fares (mostly for weekend
departure dates, bookings for two or more persons, and round-trip tickets
between the same destinations), and the number of seats on these fares
are rather limited. However, the savings can be quite large -- with
flights from Nagoya to Fukuoka starting at Y9000 (ANA), and Tokyo to
Fukuoka at Y10,000 (JAL).

ANA's homepage clearly shows these fares: a flight on the ANA
"totsuzen warikibi" fare from Tokyo to Sapporo on Saturday, July 24,
for example, is Y16,300, almost 50 percent off the regular fare of
Y30,300. JAL's Web site did not show these fares for the Tokyo-Sapporo
route, but did show very cheap fares for the Tokyo-Fukuoka route on
July 24 -- with the lowest price fare at Y10,300 for an early morning
flight. This is less than 1/3rd of the price of the normal fare of
Y33,300! Flights to Osaka from Tokyo start as low as Y7,300! This is
almost Y6000 less than the Nozomi shinkansen fare. Apparently,the
discounts apply on different routes to different airlines.

Airline Websites:

JAL: www.jal.co.jp

ANA: www.ana.co.jp

Interested? Have a Japanese friend or partner help you with the
online booking process if you've never done it before. You don't have
to pay with credit card either -- payment is accepted at most
convenience stores using the in-store kiosks. Here's to wishing
everyone great summer travel, wherever you go!

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura



*GAMEBOY ADVANCE SP - Gameboy's newest 'salariman' hand-held
console can be found as cheaply as Y9,870 at PC Shop Radar,
or on the company's online store.

(Y1,100 off the average Akihabara price).

*iPod M9244J/A (20GB) - The popular I-POD 20GB still retains
a hefty price tag even in Akihabara. That said, some discounting
can still be found. Outlet Plaza has the IPOD for Y39,800, nearly
Y3,100 less than the Akihabara average price.


*24 MB or higher ADSL Access - Powered Internet (POINT) offers the
cheapest ADSL plans in Tokyo at the moment, with average monthly fees
of only Y1,710, and a special promotional campaign offering a total of
Y28,725 in free services. This is a special kakaku.com price.

(See http://www.kakaku.com/bb/ for a special search engine that finds
the cheapest broadband in youra area.)

*All Bargain Roundup bargains were found courtesy of www.kakaku.com,
Japan's largest price-comparison engine.

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Packing Light -- The Way to Go in Japan

While not necessarily frugal, packing light (hopefully just
one bag) is truly a necessity when travelling within Japan,
esecially if you plan on taking the train. Ask anyone who has
travelled with parents or friends from overseas, and you'll
hear horror stories of herding multiple-suitcase-bearing
foreigners through the heat of crowded train stations. I once
shepherded a friend with a 12-foot surfboard from Hokkaido to

Ever since then, I pack light.

My own personal tips:

1) Choose basic clothing colors that can be mixed and match,
as well as wrinkle-free fabrics. Roll your clothing instead
of folding it to save space.

2) If possible, only bring one pair of shoes. Shoes are very
heavy and take up space.

3) Toiletries: Bring freebie-toiletry kits you've swiped from
previous trips -- they are the perfect size, and you can dispose
of them while you travel (though this is not very
environmentally sound).

Looking for some additional information: check out www.travelite.org.
It's a Web site devoted to teaching people to travel lightly -- usually
with just a carry-on bag. Happy packing!


Subscribers: 249 as of July 18, 2004


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

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