For the majority of us, living in Japan is something of a dream come true. From the other side of the sea, the country is an amazing combination of everything a creative mind could wish for. With a history going back thousands of years, to the latest in gizmos and gadgets, you are always in arms reach of the newest of the new, or a historical retreat. However, when all of those romantic moments begin to lose their luster, we are greeted with all of those fun, little challenges that we did our best to avoid in our previous life. Things like paying bills and figuring out how to throw away the trash…But, fear not! Because Axiom will let you in on a few secrets that keep our tiny ship afloat.
10. Freeze rice
It may seem like a pretty far fetched idea, but more than often you will find that your estimation skills have failed you as you make more rice in you rice cooker than you anticipated. Instead of closing the lid and accidentally starting your own science fair project, take the left over rice, put it in saran wrap, and throw it in the freezer. Then next time when you are looking for something to go with the twenty persimmons your neighbor gave you, you’ll only be a quick zap in the microwave away from some instant rice.
9. Bring your old student ID
Remember college?…No? Then you spent your time well. Although you might not have taken anything from college with you to Japan, make sure not to forget your old student ID. With museums and discount options abound for students, you are more than likely to save a buck on an entry ticket or two. Don’t worry if you think the picture doesn’t match, no one’s going to be taking more looks at your mug than they have to.
8. Anticipate foreigner exoduses
Whether you’d like to admit it or not, most foreigners end up shipping themselves back to their home countries eventually, and they tend to leave all of their crap for someone else to deal with. But as they say, one man’s wasabi is another man’s ketchup! Before they hop on the next flight out, most people try and make a buck through selling all of their stuff through sites like Gaijinpot.com [ link ]. The closer they are to their final departure, the more quickly the value of their stuff decreases, so hold steady and wait til you see the whites of their eyes.
7. Recycle your bathtub water
Once you have discovered the joys of soaking in a Japanese bathtub after a long day, you’ll be quickly brought back to reality by your increased water bill. But instead of getting stressed out and taking away from life’s little luxuries, use the water to wash your clothes! At first thought, it might seem a bit backwards but the trick is to only use the bathtub water to run the first cycle. That water picks up all the dirt from your clothes anyway and gets flushed away and replaced with the water from the tap. If you are too lazy to use a bucket, you can pick up an electric water pump for this specific purpose at most hardware stores.
6. Share a flat
Although it might seem like an obvious first choice, finding someone who you are compatible with is pretty tough after just arriving in the country. Your best bet is to find some temporary housing in the city you want to live until you meet the perfect friends to rent a house with. There are plenty of organizations who set up accommodations akin to student dormitory type housing that are just a google away.
5. Switch to drinking wine
Whether its red, white, or Japanese, drinking wine might not help your liver any, but it will easy the pain in your wallet. Japan has some of the best beer in the world, but it sadly comes at a hefty price. You can expect to pay around $6.50 or £4 for a single pint at any bar, versus half that for a glass of wine.
4. Sign up for point systems
Japan. Loves. Points. There’s no other way to explain why everything from the subway to your local convenient store has its own unique point accumulation system to get you free stuff for spending your dough. You can even sign up at grocery stores to get reduced priced items and occasional prizes.
3. Use Softbank mobile phone service
Since everyone is on the iPhone and the only current service provider who stocks it is Softbank, you’d be hard-pressed not to sign up for the carrier, even if you are fine with a standard phone (and by Japanese standards you are talking about a phone that takes better pictures than your digital camera, records HD video, and streams live TV). Because the service provider allows reduced priced calling and text from same network phones, you may find yourself refusing to make friends with the likes of those who use Au, or Docomo.
2. Pick one dish to get really good at cooking
Eating out at restaurants in Japan ain’t cheap. As a matter of fact, it is mind-bogglingly expensive. With this in mind, do your best to flex those Chef Boyardee muscles and pick a few dishes to master. Then next time your significant other complains about never getting to eat gourmet food, bust out the apron and show them what you can do with a pair of chopsticks and a one stove kitchenette.
1. Shop at Daiso
If you don’t know about this gold mind yet, we’ll be waiting for your “Sayonara Sale” next week.