FW-63 -- Getting the Most out of Government Services

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
* * * * * * * * 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, July 12, 2005 Issue No. 63

- What's New (Getting the Most out of Government Services)
- Frugal Friends: (Japanese Guest Houses)
- Frugal Tips (Staying Cool, Frugally Speaking)
- Credits

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===== NetTokyo - Summer Charity Networking Event ===
The Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo will be replacing their
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+++ WHAT'S NEW (Getting the Most out of Government Services)

Dear Frugal Readers,

With a public debt equivalent to roughly 150% of GDP, there's
no question that the Japanese government is borrowing (and
spending) itself into the ground. While the majority of the money
appears to go to publicly financed road projects used mostly by
deer and monkeys, the Japanese government is, in fact, an
amazing trove of frugal resources, if you know how to access/
utilize them.

My own city government is a good example. The main city library
has a small but growing collection of English-language books
('yosho'), and the library will purchase your desired book if it is
requested properly. Our 11-story city hall building has a lavish
(and cheap) cafeteria available for all visitors, offering great lunch
deals at less than 500 yen per person with a spectacular view.
If you are expecting, the city lends out reclining baby carriages
(usually only used for the first few months) for the bargain price
of 300 yen a month! If you find yourself involved in the care of
an elderly relative in Japan, certain consummable items (such
as adult diapers) are also either available for free or heavily
subsidized. Finally, our city also offers a substantial subsidy for
income-qualified families to attend private kindergartens.

Your own city, town, or ward might offer similar, or even better,
services. However, finding out about them is the problem! For
one thing, there appears to be little government information
available in English about these services, and the information
that is available is often outdated. Secondly, services offered
differ by locality, with some local governments offering only the
bare basics.

So, first of all, how do you get this great information? The simplest
way is to read the local city/town/or ward "koho" or newsletter
that should arrive in your mailbox every week. The "koho" is, alas,
only in Japanese, but is often simply written. The next best option
is to visit your local prefectural or city international affairs office
and ask for the "Town Living Guide." Within the last five years,
most governments of major cities/prefectures have put together and
translated guides of basic government services (such as trash
collection and emergency services) combined with explanations of
various social welfare systems. A few of these guides can be found
at local town halls, and many cities have also put their English living
guides online as well. Perhaps one of their most useful features is
a list of local gymnasiums, libraries, parks, museums, and other

Finally, the fastest way is probably (especially if you speak even
basic Japanese) to simply show up at the city/town/ward hall and ASK.
Most local governments will have a central Q&A or information desk,
and the staff at that desk can usually point you in the right direction.
If your town has a lot of foreigners, free interpreting service might
also be available some days of the week. Be sure and visit mid-week,
during a relatively slow period, and allow for some waiting time. Also,
writing your questions down in easy English might make it easier to
get the information you need.

For those in the know, Japan's local government services and social
welfare can provide a very significant savings - you just need to access
the information.

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar

Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 12 start-up companies in Japan,
will be giving an English-language seminar and Q&A on starting
up a company in Japan. This is an ideal opportunity to find
out what is involved, and to ask specific questions that are
not normally answered in business books. All materials are
For more details: http://japaninc.com/handbook_seminar3/

+++ FRUGAL FRIENDS (Japanese Guest Houses) ++++

Welcome to a new section on Frugal Watch: Frugal Friends! In this
corner, we introduce foreign-owned or foreigner-friendly businesses and
services around Japan. If you know of a Frugal Friend-worthy business,
or would like to introduce your own business to our nearly 1,000 readers,
email Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)!

**** Japanese Guest Houses (http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com) ****

Looking to travel within Japan, or hosting guests from overseas? Why not
experience a night at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) or guest house?
However, finding and reserving these accommodations can sometimes be a
hassle, especially if you don't speak Japanese. Well, Jeff Aasgaard in
Kawanishi, Hyogo, has a solution for you. As he writes:

"I operate Japanese Guest Houses (http://JapaneseGuestHouses.com/index.htm),
which is a free service to help English-speaking travelers make reservations
at ryokans all over Japan. We represent over 500 ryokans in all price ranges."

Japanese Guest Houses features extensive, reliable, and detailed listings
of various traditional accommodations within Japan, and also offers
excellent general advice as to what kind of ryokan to choose, travel tips
for beginners and seasoned Japan veterans, and even what to expect when
staying overnight in a Buddhist temple! The photos, guest comments, and
guest ratings for each property are particularly valuable, and the range
of accommodations starts at a relatively frugal (in Japan) 7,000-10,000 yen
per person with two meals. If you're planning a trip soon, or just curious,
do check out this extensive gem of an English website.

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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (Frugal Friends Online!)
Would you like to access an online directory of Frugal Friends without
having to sort through Frugal Watch back issues? The recently updated
FrugalJapan.com website features its own list of Frugal Friends
websites and descriptions. Visit here for more information:
Subscribers: 959 as of July 12, 2005


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

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