* * * * * * * * 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, November 7, 2004 Issue No. 32


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

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======================== Pygmalion by G.B. Shaw =======================

The International Theatre Company London's 20th performance in Japan
features a classic comedy about the transformation of a flower girl
into a society lady. This original version of My Fair Lady promises an
evening of great entertainment. Public performances in Kyoto, Nov 9 and
Tokyo, Nov. 17 and Nov. 18. Please see http://www.stageplay.jp for details
on the venues. The production is supported by the British Council and
sponsored by Ashley Associates (http://www.ashleyassociates.co.jp).


Dear Frugal Readers,

Just as you're putting away your Halloween decorations (if you do that!),
you've probably noticed that Christmas stuff is already up in stores
around Japan. While Christmas is strictly a commercial and/or romantic
holiday to most Japanese folks, it's becoming increasingly easy to find
bargain holiday decorations in Japan. Plus, if you're sending gifts
home for the holidays or going home yourself, now is a perfect time to
begin shopping and wrapping before that last minute rush.

Yesterday a loyal Frugal Japan reader tipped us off to a great resource for
frugal wrapping paper, Christmas cards, and other stationery purchases:
Shimojima, a wholesale stationery supplier. They sell everything
from paper bags to wrapping paper to signage to plastic plates, all at
very good prices. Our frugal source said that she found great beautiful
Japanese-themed Christmas cards at between 100-200 yen, one third cheaper
than retail, and Christmas themed-napkins for 250 yen. Shimojima is
also one of the few Japanese wholesalers I've found with an English
website: www.shiimojima.co.jp/English. Check the Stores link for
a list of retail locations within Japan. (Thanks, Jacqui!)

My major Christmas decoration finds last year were at my local 100 yen
shop. A store in one of the larger chains (such as Daiso) will probably
have some great steals on overruns from last year's merchandise. I found
several cute mini trees with a wood base for 100 yen each, plus wreaths.
There were also ample decoration packs, making for a creative evening
spent decorating the trees and wreaths. I even found a few CDs with
general Christmas-themed music: good for parties or teaching holiday
classes. All for 100 yen!

Finally, Costco Wholesale is a great source for authentic holiday
merchandise. While not so price competitive, you do get a lot for your
money. The price-per-unit on real Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and
decorations is much better than other sources. Yhe only problem is using
what you've bought! Splitting the paper or cards between two friends or
families might be a good way to save some money.

With the holidays approaching, there're lots of opportunities to spend money
we might not have otherwise. While this is part of the fun, it's also very
easy to go into debt! Above all else, plan ahead and budget for your expenses
for a fun, debt-free holiday season.

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

======================== " B U R E A U " ===============================
Serviced Apartments in Tokyo

BUREAU monthly apartment complex offers an attractive exterior design
and stylish interior furnishings. A concierge is available on weekdays
to assist guests and weekly cleaning service keeps apartments fresh and
new. A perfect alternative to hotel living, BUREAU is the choice for
demanding executives on short to extended stay in Tokyo.

This week's Bargain Roundup is something totally different: a shredder!
As identity theft is on the rise both overseas and in Japan, making sure to
dispose of your personal paperwork safely is very important. Especially
in a country with communal garbage collection like Japan, your old bills,
credit card statements, and personal information could be a gold mine for
identity theives. While the risk is slightly lower for foreign residents (our
names are harder to forge, I suppose), why take chances?

OHM Hand Shredder (Straight Cut) 600 yen
As usual, the variety of products in Japan never ceases to amaze me.
This, apparently, is the ultimate frugal shredder choice: a hand-operated
shredder. Comes in fashionable orange clear plastic, and can shred
two A4 sheets of paper or one postcard at a time. The only added benefit
(besides the low price) is probably the calories you will burn shredding.

Lapiz 3-Way Hand Shredder 1,380 yen
A slightly upscale version of the common hand-operated shredder, this
machine will also cut credit cards (into 4 strips) and CDs (into thirds)
-- actually a very good idea. The paper is cross cut into smaller bits than
the above straight cut, which might be better? Protect all of your vital
personal information with this single machine. Still, a pair of scissors
would probably do the job for you, at least with the credit card. Looks
very sturdy for the price, however.

OHM Compact Shredder 2,080 yen
The cheapest electric paper shredder I could find. Will shred 3 pieces of
A4 size paper at once, and also includes a rather sturdy-looking metal
mesh basket receptacle. Has an automatic stop function, and reverse.
You loose the calorie-burning properties of the hand shredders, but DO
get to experience that satisfying bzzzm sound and feeling of accomplishment
after you've shredded something.

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Still shivering? Frugal Japan members have also spoken up with their
tried-and-true methods for battling the cold. Check out our latest collection
of monthly tips at:

A highlight:
"I have an oil-filled, electric, radiator-type heater. It gives off a mild
but toasty warmth, and the timer is very versatile and useful. It's even on
casters, so it can be rolled around easily. (It's rather heavy otherwise.)
But (unless you're leaving it on all the time) you do have to plan ahead
and turn it on (or have it turn itself on) a good 20 minutes before needed
(more in colder weather). But even with all the maintenance hassle,
for heating up a room quickly and thoroughly, there's nothing like a toyu
(oil-burning) heater! (Or cheaper to run, I think.) The classic ones still
have the flat top that you can keep a kettle warm on. Unfortunately, for
safety their timers are limited to run for only 3 hours after being turned on.
This wasn't enough to keep warm through the winter night in my previous
place, a little house in Saitama. There the winter night temperature dropped
to 5 degrees centigrade inside the bedroom (and a few times must have been
below zero degrees centigrade; temperatures too low to register on the heater)."

Keep warm!


Subscribers: 469 as of November 7, 2004


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

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Copyright 2004 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.