The myth is that the cost of living in Japan is ridiculously high and that apples cost the equivalent of 50 USD each. If you did fancy buying a 50 USD apple then there are places which do indeed sell em at that price. But the fact is that most media are not going to cover stories of apples that are reasonably priced.
If however you are hearing from a friend that their trip to Japan cost a bomb then its probably because they were spending time in a hotel and eating at out all the time at touristy places.
Been living in Japan for 12 years now and after visiting Europe and the US a few times in between, I feel that its much cheaper to live in Japan. This depends on *how* you spend yer hard earned dosh and *where* you spend it.
A few things to keep the cost of living low - shopping wisely at the 100 Yen Shop, Ikea, Kakaku.com for electronics and setting up a Sole Proprietorship (I need to update that post a wee bit) will save you a load of cash. Another thing to help keep costs low is to shop at Costco - a supermarket that sells groceries, apparel and electronics at wholesale prices.
There are currently 9 Costco's dotted across Japan - Tamasakai, Amagasaki, Hisayama, Makuhari, Kanazawa Seaside, Kawasaki, Sapporo, Iruma and Shinmisato. You can see the locations of each warehouse on this page. 3 more are due to open in 2011 - Maebashi in Gunma, Kyoto and Zama in Kanagawa.
Today we are going to take a look at what its like inside their Kawsaki warehouse.
神奈川県 川崎市 川崎区 池上新町3-1-4
Wifey usually goes with some of the neighbors to buy a load of stuff to fill the car every few weeks. Its been a while since I came here - its just like Ikea with a load of pallets here n there.
Costco also do a selection of electronics. Here they got a load of Toshiba Regza's which are the cheapest LED displays on the market at the moment.
Folks who live in Japan and have not been to Costco before will notice how huge everything is - many of these items are not even available in the local supermarkets like Tokyu Store.
Rows n rows of food and daily amenities.
Costco also have a wide selection of clothes too.
Most food items at Costco are sold in big bunches like these bags O bread.
798 yen for this box of 12 donuts. For the same price you could only pick up 7 or so from Mr Donuts.
Local supermarkets will rarely ever sell stuff packaged like this. Costco package food in simple containers or boxes meaning more savings for the consumer.
Rows of meat stuffs - perfect present for the niece or nephew.
Probably because I was brought up on stuff like this back in the UK - this is my kinda food ^^;
Some more gift ideas for uncle or aunt?
The sushi at Costco is pretty decent too. Each of these boxes cost 2,480 yen.
We pick up these sushi rolls all the time - 998 yen for a box.
Dr Pepper is available in some vending machines but does not seem to be that popular - me grab a box for 1,080 yen.
One thing I don't like about the "Western" type bottles is that the labels are glued on making if difficult to peel off as we are required to recycle in Japan. Japanese bottle labels are designed to come off clean away from the bottle.
When I first came to Japan I got a shock as to how small the table cereal was which lasted only two poxy servings! The ones at Costco however are like the ones I remember back in the UK - huge. Here you can get 3 huge boxes for 938 yen. Local supermarkets will only do half the size of 1 box for about 400 yen.
Ebi Mangetsu (Prawn crackers) taste great when you crunch em up and sprinkle on rice.
Just like Ikea, Costco have a food court area which do a load of value for money snacks.
The food area however is always packed with folks munching on their hot doggies and wot not.
After paying, an armed security guard will come and appear to check the contents of your shopping cart whilst looking at the receipts.
Our loot for the day.
Do you have Costco in your neck of the woods or something similar?
More living in Japan tips below.