The Fuji ALTs blog focuses on life and living in the Fuji/Fujinomiya area.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Immigration in Shizuoka

Here's a map showing the location of the Immigration Office in Shizuoka. You can buy revenue stamps at the convenience store next door after you find out how much you'll need to buy.
Hours are 9-12 and 1-4, M-F. Phone number is 054-653-5571.
You can click on the buttons on this map to navigate and enlarge, or click on the link below to see parking info.

View Immigration Office in Shizuoka in a larger map

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hot Springs in/near Fuji

The map shows the local hot springs that I know and go to. Click on the link to view the interactive map, and look at the notes to the left for each marked hot spring.

View Fuji area Hot Springs in a larger map

Gotemba Outlet Mall

Easy access from the Tomei at the Gotemba exit. You have to be careful about prices here- not everything is a bargain. Saying that, there are days we buy nothing, and days we find things we’ve looked for for months. You just gotta go, know what you want and then be lucky. You can sign up for a passport at the information center to receive extra discounts. You can see outlet-wide sale dates posted at their website here (in English and Japanese).
See the first google map for directions.

McDonald's on the Cheap

My wife wouldn’t think of eating at Mickey D’s without a coupon. You can get them on your cell phone (don’t ask me how), or print them out from the internet at .

Upscale Grocery Shopping at a Discount

The AOKI supermarket in Fuji is the local upscale supermarket. The prices are a little higher than most local markets, BUT the store is very attentive to discount items if they start looking even a little old. Look for discounted food sections throughout the market-the packages are usually conspicuously marked with a large sticker.

Cheap Gas in Fuji

The JOMO gas stand on the Hwy. 1 bypass on the coast, just south of the Nittori and Sports Depot stores, is usually the cheapest gas in town. And if you buy regular gas on a weekend, there is an added discount. AND, if you buy the preca, or prepaid card, there is an added discount at the pump.

Which Electronics Store is the Cheapest?

Yamada Denki (located on Hwy. 1 in Fuji near Shin-Fuji Shinkansen station, and other locations) has a point card system that can pay up to 10% of the price of your purchase in points. This point card system alone has often been for me the deciding factor in which electronics shop sells the same item the cheapest.
Sign up to get one at the service counter. And then every time you visit the store, play the game machines in the entry way to get 100 or more bonus points, too. One point equals 1 yen.
All that said, there are also Nojima Electronics in the big Aeon Town mall on Rt. 1 on the coast, and Kojimi Electronics in Fuji as well.

Holiday Train Travel on the Cheap

The JR train companies sell a ticket package at various times of the year, usually during holiday and other popular travel times, called seishin jyuhachi kippu. This ticket is actually 5 tickets, each good for 24 hours of travel on the JR system trains. More than one person can travel on the ticket on the same day, as long as there are enough unused ‘days’ on your ticket.
If you don’t want to, or can’t, use all 5 tickets, try a ken-ken shop: they’ll often sell unused portions, or even buy your unused portions. It’s best to contact the shop ahead of time and arrange the special deal.

Where to Get Discount Tickets

There are ken-ken shops near most large stations, and scattered around town, as well (see the map for locations in Fuji and Shizuoka). These tickets shops sell a wide variety of discount tickets, including Shinkansen tix, telephone cards, movie theater tix, beer coupons, and more. Just another reason not to pay full price!
Click on the link below the map to interact with it.

View Fuji Ken-ken shop in a larger map

Everything Goes on Sale in Japan

A German expat living in New Zealand once asked me if living in Japan was expensive. Without thinking I said, ‘Everything goes on sale.’ I’ve thought about it since then, and realized that buying things on sale is the key to living on the cheap in Japan for my family.
There are axioms for shopping that derive from the fact that everything will at some time go on sale. One is that if you must have something ‘now’, then you’ll probably be forced to pay full price. Sometimes that can’t be helped, but with a little foresight and planning, this can often be avoided. Like the time our TV broke- we went to the electronics store and picked the TV we wanted. Then waited. In 2-3 weeks the TV went on sale, and we saved the difference. Of course, we had to live without a TV for a few weeks (a blessing, in my opinion).
Another point is that when things you like or often use go on sale, don’t just buy one, buy several. This works very well for beer- when summer rolls around we usually have a selection of imported beers in the fridge and cellar, cold and ready to drink, all bought at a discount.
Fruit in Japan is generally of very good quality, but of course you can pay royally for it, too. By eating the in-season fruit, which usually is sold at relatively cheaper prices, you’ll get a good yearly variety of fruit on your menu, and not have to pay 3000 for a watermelon.
The ubiquitous konbeni, or convenience store, in Japan offers you that, but usually at a sharp price increase. If you can live without the convenience, shop somewhere else and save.
All of these ideas require you to make a lifestyle choice, and often require you to take what you can get, rather than getting what you want now. But in the end, the meaning of Benjamin Franklin’s saying, ‘A penny saved is a penny earned’ will show make itself known in your savings.

Free Tools and Workshop for the DIYer

If you get a credit card at Jumbo Encho, and there is no sign-up or annual charge for this, there are some other services you get for free also, even if you never use the card. There are workshops in the stores that you can use that have a variety of shop tools for both wood and metal. There is also someone in the workshop who can cut large pieces of wood for you. From the service desk, there are 15 power tools (at my local store, anyway) that you can borrow for 1, 2 or 3 nights for use at home.
If you don’t have an Encho card, these tools are also available for rental, but maybe for a shorter time period. And at my local store, if you buy the materials at the store, one day a week the helpers in the workshop will cut the wood for free to your specifications.