Japan Has Two Prices – Expensive and Not So Expensive

After spending a good portion of time working on my Kanji in Context material this morning (and afternoon), I went out for a walk to stretch my legs and get some food (being Sunday, you know the drill). I’d also read somewhere that sitting down for too long can cause piles (hemorrhoids), which, pardon the pun, can be a real pain in the ass.

Going no where in particular, with no real goal in mind, I wandered around the area of Umeda between the main town area and my home. Having a browse around various shops and looking in (non residential) windows, something hit me. Well, two things if you count a bicycle that got me in the back of the leg because I wasn’t paying attention.

When compared to prices of things back home, Japan is rather odd. Generally speaking, things can be classified as two kinds of prices (even second hand goods); “really expensive” and “just about normal”, with the rare anomaly of an actual cheap thing. It’s only recently since the high price of the yen (円高) kicked in that I started to notice that what I thought was cheap wasn’t actually inexpensive, it just looked that way next to it’s top class counterpart.

Looking back at my numerous visits to the 100 yen shop, the 99 yen shop, or buying from the 100 yen menu at McDonalds, I realise that I was neither getting ripped off nor getting a bargain (bar the exception of a few awesome finds at the 100 yen shop). Even going to our favourite ‘cheap’ watering hole, it occured to me last night that paying roughly £2.80 was a bit more than usual compared to back home. However, compare that with what appears to be the average price of a beer at £4 to £5 and it instantly looks like a bargain.

Since last week the price of the yen has come down a scoshie bit (no where near to how it was when we first got here mind you), but I’ve really been wanting to squeeze the pennies … or should I say ‘yennies’.

It’s a holiday from Uni this week as new University Konan students take their entrance exams. Good luck folks. Though the break is always well received, I’m not a big fan of time away from University here. Not only because it means not getting food at the dorm (this holiday isn’t a national holiday, which means we get food … well yesterday was), but because it takes me away from chances and opportunities to practice speaking. I did try to start up a conversation twice today with perfect strangers, and it went just as I expected it … very badly. Thankfully not too badly to get me deported, but a lot of confusion on both of our parts (and extreme shock from one guy) led to a very fast exit on both sides.

Anyone remember The Beets? Damn Disney breaking them up T_T

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