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Archive for the 'Money' Category


Surging Gas Prices in Japan

Fuel prices in Japan is not spared when the barrel goes up in a spike. Prices have reached an all time high since 1987 in Japan, with the 180yen mark hit. Currently, fuel prices in Japan is 182yen per litre shortly after 9am on Thursday last week. Read more.

With the price increase, we should look for other alternatives. Bicycling is a good option. So is walking.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Japan comes out with a car that feeds on purely water and has ball bearings for wheels just like in the movie I,Robot. :) No, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Here are 5 things you can do to save up some money in lieu of the price hike in fuel:

1. Car Pool – when 4 people share the cost of 184yen/liter, it really saves up. Plus, you get meet more people and have meaningful relationships while you are in the car.
2. Public transportation – duh, for obvious reasons. Japan has one of the best public transportation system in the world!
3. Walk, Jog, Run – if your work place is close by, say 15 minutes walk, but all means take it. It is healthy for you and you can save up a lot of money from not driving and treat yourself to a nice dinner or a Gucci bag.
4. Hitch Hike – A lot of people during the 60s and the 70s, hitch hike their way to different states. It saves them a whole ton of money and they might even learn a thing or two during the trip. Carry a pepper spray with you, just in case.
5. Go hybrid – if fuel is expensive, and your need to drive to work, go hybrid or go electric. The earth will thank you. Although hybrid cars are not cheap right now, think about it in the long run, you will save more money this way.

So what would YOU do in times of this fuel spike?

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Daily, Misc, Money, Transport | 1 Comment »


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How to Open a Bank Account as an Alien?

I never liked the term “alien”, which is used extensively to describe gaijins and foreigners in Japan. Like come on, different skin color or culture doesn’t mean we’re aliens. Genetically our make-up’s the same. Anyway, i am not about to go bitching about a word used to described foreigners in Japan. The purpose of this post is about how to open a bank account as a foreigner in Japan.

You will need your “Alien Registration Card” first and foremost. Then you will need your inkan or signature. That’s pretty much it. Banks are open from 9am to 3pm so please plan your time properly. It is wise to open your own bank account because in Japan, most foreign checks are not accepted. And your ATM card from your country’s bank, even with the PLUS sign may not work although more and more ATM machine in Japans are becoming more accepting towards international ATM cards.

Here is a bank related video. That girl is faster than a machine, yo:

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Bank, Misc, Money | No Comments »


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Frugal Japan

Frugal Japan

Living in Japan can be very expensive as some of your may already know. It does pay to live frugally there although being frugal doesn’t mean cheap :) I found a website where all of you living in Japan may find it to be very useful.

The website is called Frugal Japan. It’s a resourceful website that helps you to live better in Japan. The information is also useful if you’re living outside Japan. In this day and age where global warming is already a reality, it pays to learn a thing or two on how to conserve your natural resources.

Here’s what Frugal Japan stands for:

Put more concretely, we define frugality as trying to:

* Use resources wisely.
* Live within or below our means, and avoid unnecessary debt.
* Lead a simple life, without an over-commitment to too much stuff, too many activities, or excess waste.
* Save diligently and joyfully for our future needs, desires, and goals.
* Encourage financial and time freedom, through the development of independent and unique businesses outside of the traditional ‘employee’ framework.

Check out their website, it might just change your lifestyle into a better one :)

Frugal Japan

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Cost of Living, Misc, Money | No Comments »


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The ins and outs of Japanese Currency


Japanese 1000Yen Bill

I realize that there are no post about Japanese currencies. We all know that the currency is Yen but we don’t know what type of money they have. I had a first hand experience with money that at a glance you know I am a foreigner. I was in Chinatown, Montreal buying dried food stuff at this chinese store. The amount came up to 12.55 dollars. I stood there for at least 2 mins trying to figure out which is 5 cents and which is the 25 cent coins…cos they have the same size. God…how embarrasing, esp when the guy asked me if I am new in town :P So to save you from looking like a fool picking at those round coins on your palms while the vendor thumps his feet with impatience, here’s a post about the type of coins and monies that is part of the daily Japanese life.

Money is Japan is called Okane. It’s not pronounced as O-cane but as Oh-Kah-Neh. The Yen is the basic coin in Japan, just like a penny is to America or cents is to UK or any other commonwealth countries.

To me, I find that it is the coins that always sell us out in any foreign country – people can just tell that you’re new in the country by watching you count your pennies! So, I’m gonna focus on the coins right now. In Japan, the only coins that have a hole in them are the 5 Yen and the 50 Yen coins. The difference between them is that 5 Yen is yellow/gold, 50 Yen is silver. See below:

5 Yen

50 Yen

The 5Yen and 50Yen coins are pretty easy to distinguish from the other coins because they have a hole in them but to differentiate the two can take a little bit of time. But since the color for both are different, we just need to get that schematic process in our heads off that gold doesn’t mean higher value in this case. I know the 5 Yen is not made out of gold, it’s just that the copper content gives it a nice gold sheen. :)

Here are the rest of the coins. They are easier to know because each of them are engraved with huge digits of the coin’s denomination.


1 Yen


10 Yen


100 Yen




500 Yen-Old

The old and new 500 Yen is still in circulation. So either one is still in used :) Although, I think they are quickly being replaced with the new one as time goes by.

The paper currency Japan uses ranges from 1000Yen to 10,000 Yen. The 2000 Yen paper currency was introduced in the year 2000 (how befitting!).


Old and New Bills

Source: Wikipedia; Japan Zone

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Misc, Money | No Comments »


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Health Insurance

If you’re traveling anywhere in the world, you should always ALWAYS make sure you have your personal health insurance covered. This is mainly because if you ever have an medical emergency in a foreign land, you are covered, both your little behind and your wallet. That is why, many countries insist on their foreigners to have health insurance from their own insurance company or take a health insurance offered by their country.

In Japan, the goverment insists that all residents must enroll in a Japanese insurance program. Currently there are two main types of health insurance – “Social Insurance” (KENKO-HOKEN) and National Health Insurance (KOKUMIN-KENKO-HOKEN). Generally, social insurance are for use for employees in companies and National health insurance are used for students and the self-employed.

There are other types of insurance as well called the Mutual Aid Associations (KYOSAI KUMIAI), which cover most public service and private school employees. Under Japanese insurance, you are generally required to pay about 30% of the medical expenses incurred.

Foreigners who come to work in Japan has a choice in their health insurance though. Most of them opt for health insurance from their country of residence or they take up offers from private insurance companies in Japan.

There are some pointers to look out for as an Expat in Japan, here they are:

* Health insurance is mandatory when living in Japan for one year or longer.
* Contrary to popular rumors circulating among the GAIJIN community, foreigners ARE NOT automatically covered by National Health Insurance.
* As National Health Insurance premiums are based on your PREVIOUS year’s income, the first year of coverage is relatively cheap (you pay the minimum required premium).

You also need to be aware of the legitimacy of your Expatriate Healthcare program from your chosen insurance company. Here are some pointers for you to look up on an insurance company before deciding:

1. Underwriter of the product.
2. Standard and Poor’s rating.
3. Emergency Assistance Company.
4. Representative company of the product.

All of that information above needs to be on their website. If not, request a written documentation of the information above. It can save you a lot of trouble!

For more information, visit Gaijinpot

Posted by The Expedited Writer in Administration, Emergency, Healthcare, Money | 1 Comment »


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Why is Japan So Expensive?

I found a website that tries to explain why Japan is so expensive. It makes me slightly suspicious, firstly because of the dodgy website design and hosting (on Yahoo! Geocities, no less) and secondly because I’ve seen things that are quite different to what the article outlines. The website is dated 2002 so it’s not terribly out of date but I feel it can be inaccurate at times. Firstly, I should say that I didn’t find Japan horribly expensive. There are horribly expensive things out there ($50 watermelons, for example) but you can also find affordable watermelons if you know where to look. Also, some things seem to be expensive across the board (transport, fruit and vegetables, movies) while others are dirt cheap across the board (cigarettes, electronics, everyday bits of plastic that can be found in 100 yen shops). Keep in mind that I’m comparing prices with those in Australia.

But generally, I was quite comfortable in Japan, despite being on a part-time salary with VERY expensive rent (about a third of my salary). If I had moved out into my own accomodation, then I would have had maybe $200 more a month to spend. With around AUS$2000 a month, I could live and eat, go out once a week or so, and usually travel to some part of Japan once every two months.

I didn’t drink much but I did eat out a lot. If I could walk somewhere instead of catching a train, I did. Alcohol from a bottle shop is cheaper than alcohol in an izakaya although nomihodai (all you can drink) was readily available and a great deal. I didn’t go to Roppongi twice a week and insist on the VIP treatment. That’s probably a clincher. Some people working and living in Japan complain about how expensive it is and how they run out of money quickly, but they’re also the type of people that must party at every opportunity. Any country would be expensive with that lifestyle.

Oh well, have a read. But take their info with a grain of salt, because I can tell you two things that are wrong with just the first section alone, at least compared to Australia. One: cigarettes are dirt cheap in Japan. Two, you’ll get better interest on your savings in a bank there than you would in Australia. Make sure that you compare the numbers with your own country, not just taking the word of American (or for that matter, Austrailan) based bloggers.

Why is Japan So Expensive?

Posted by Chidade in Cost of Living, Money | 5 Comments »


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A bit of extra cash

If you’re currently living in Japan, here’s a way to make some extra cash by being a “research” (read: probably marketing) guinea-pig for some of the biggest companies in Japan, like NTT DoCoMo. They are looking for foreigners to give their opinions on things, it seems.

I love computers and gadgetry, so I’d like to try this for sure. Thanks to Yves for the heads up!

This is just a quick note to let you know about a hot new service
being provided by Hiragana Times that you – and your foreign friends
and colleagues – might be interested in signing up for.

Hiragana Times has recently launched a new service that provides
foreigners with opportunities to take part in research work for
Japanese companies. We have had a fantastic response from the foreign
community so far and more and more foreigners are signing up – and
earning themselves extra money.

Information about the service is shown below this e-mail. Please feel
free to register!

I would appreciate it if you could send this information around to
your foreign friends and colleagues, and encourage them to register
for our service.



Paid Research Opportunities for Foreigners

Hiragana Times, the well-known Japanese-English bilingual magazine,
has launched a new service that provides foreigners with opportunities
to take part in research work for Japanese companies.

Due to the fantastic response we have had from the foreign community
and the quality of work being carried out, Hiragana Times is receiving
more and more requests for foreigners to participate in research.

Some of the companies we have recently assisted include NTT DoCoMo,
Dentsu and Toshiba, and research has involved everything from in-house
testing of websites and mobile Internet platforms, to crash testing
laptop computers.

Foreigners registering for our service include everyone from company
managers, Tokyo University students and software engineers, to Web
designers, teachers and housewives.

Of course, all work is paid (extra pocket money or cash for that
special weekend away!) and many foreign participants have been coming
back for more.

There are NO sign-up fees and registration takes only a few minutes.

To register your name, please send the following information to:

Jonathon Walsh, at:

- Name:
- Age:
- Nationality
- Mobile/home phone number:
- Occupation:
- Town/City you live in:
- Year you came to Japan:
- Japanese ability: [basic/intermediate/advanced]

Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by Chidade in Money | 1 Comment »


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