* * * * * * * * 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, August 1, 2004; Issue No 019

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- What's new
- Frugal Bargain Roundup!
- Frugal tips
- Credits

============================= EA ======================================
Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo - August 3 Seminar

Featured Speaker: Rick Roa
Title: "Taking the Next Step"

Don't miss EA-Tokyo's August 3 seminar featuring veteran Tokyo
entrepreneur, Rick Roa. Rick will be sharing stories and advice taken
from 35+ years of doing business in Japan. Many of Rick's successes
have come from challenging the norms, and as his presentation title
states, he is always "Taking the Next Step."

For more information please visit:
www.ea-tokyo.com or email info@ea-tokyo.com



Dear Frugal Readers,

After my Frugal Tips column of last week, I got an
inquiry asking: What is a "kinken shop" and how do you
use it?

As always, an excellent question! And this week, I'll
answer it.

A kinken shop, simply, is a combination of the
Japanese characters for the words "money" and
"ticket." As the name states, these shops essentially
deal in the buying and selling of all kinds of
tickets, gift certificates, discount cards and other
items. The shops offer significant discounts on some
tickets (train tickets, amusement park tickets) and a
markup on other (for concerts, soccer matches, et

The hardest part about using a kinken shop is finding
one. These literally hole-in-the-wall shops can be
found tucked around corners, in underground malls, and
in out-of-the-way places near to major stations. In
Tokyo, Shinbashi has the largest concentration of
kinken shops, followed by Ueno and Shinjuku. There are
several a few blocks outside of the Yaesu exit of
Tokyo station.

In Osaka, the basements of the Dai-ni and Dai-san
Buildings in Umeda are known to be a treasure trove of
kinken shops. If you are curious, ask taxi drivers,
shopkeepers and other locals in your area where the
nearest kinken shop is. Most will be happy to tell
you, as long as they are not competitors themselves.

After finding the shop, the next challenge is using it
well. The shop usually is filled with glass cases,
behind which lie an confusing variety of tickets.
Signs or posters sometimes list the prices. If you are
in search of a specific ticket -- say, a discounted
shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Osaka -- the fastest
method is to ask.

If you are just window shopping, take a look at
several shops in area to find the best price. You will
need cash for your purchase, as these small shops
rarely take charge cards. If the aging gentleman
behind the counter seems too threatening, bring a
Japanese friend or colleague to help. Business at
these shops is quick and efficient -- they are unlikely
to want to strike up a converstaion.

These days, the best deals to be found at kinken shops
are usually for movies (sometimes Y300-Y500 off the
ticket price), airline tickets (usually 15-20 percent
off), and for amusement parks or other attraction tickets
(sometimes as much as a 50 to 75 percent discount).

Shinkansen tickets are still a fairly good bargain for
the slower trains, but the Nozomi (fast train) discount
between Tokyo and Osaka is only about Y300-Y500 these

However, there are always surprises. You might find
yourself picking up a great deal on beer tickets, book
tickets, or stamps as well. It all depends on what's
in stock. You can also sell your new phone cards or
other gift certificates here for cash too. The
surprises, it seems, are the real joy of using kinken
shops. So next time you pass one -- take a glance inside.
You might find yourself with a fantastic frugal find
on your hands.

Frugally Yours,
Wendy J. Imura

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The Frugal Bargain Roundup is taking a short holiday
this week, as there were very few bargains to be found.
Besides, an occasional rest from bargain hunting is
itself very frugal. I'd like to ask the many Frugal
Watch readers out there, however:

1) What is your favorite online site for shopping?
2) Where do you find most of your online bargains in

I'd certainly appreciate the advice!

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Travelling abroad any time soon? Here is a nugget of
information that might come in very handy.


This Web site features a wealth of information about
airline frequent flier mile programs, and also contains
very interesting topics boards that tell you when and
where you can find the best deals for both gaining
and spending points.

An example: During my recent trip to the US, I used
Flyertalk to look up any special deals that might be
available for persons flying my route with Northwest
Airlines. I found a special offer granting persons
with an address in Asia free elite status on Northwest
for 90 days.

After signing up, we were able to use Northwest's
gorgeous business class lounge before
departing from Narita -- for free. We were also upgraded
from Coach to Business class for the flight itself, as
priority for upgrades on the business class flight
were given to Elite members. While I think I was
extremely lucky to be given an upgrade, Flyertalk is a
great resource of information of this kind. Check it


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

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