So you’re online searching for something that you need to buy, like headphones or a new multitool that you wanted to take camping. If this was 20 years ago you would get on that fuel-inefficient car of yours and go to the local hardware store or hunting store. But luckily, this is 2016 and you probably won’t go too much out of your way to check out different stores in your city. This goes for those in the U.S. and in Japan. Why? chances are buying things from the web is more convenient, and might even be cheaper. Not to mention the countless web stores that you can compare prices, see pictures, and see reviews. Last time I checked, no stores ever have printouts of reviews and ratings posted by past buyers.
So you get the idea, right?
I was in the market for a new cheap mini grill. One of those small portable and preferably foldable grill that can barely fit 2 burgers. Yup, those. Why? Because it’s hard for someone who moves around a lot to commit to a full on gas grill or a big fat one that you can get cheaply from Walmart. I can’t afford the amount of charcoal that it needs and I don’t have the space nor the need to grill 8 burgers at one time. Besides, With the small ones, I can get away with burning pieces of wood and a small amount of charcoal.
So I was clicking through Amazon.jp and realized, WOW, grills in Japan are expensive. One of these small grills will set me back 4000円ー9,000円, which equivalent to $30.00 to $80.00 in USD. I don’t know if you have a problem with that, but for something that’s made out of 2 pieces of flat metal sheets, that’s overpriced.
So I checked the U.S. counterpart and found the shocking truth. The exact same item was priced at $15.00. That’s 50% less than what it would have costed me if I were to order it in Japan. It’s not like grilling is a foreigner thing, but some things in Japan I’ve found out to just be more expensive for a variety of reasons. Blenders, grills, slow cookers are all things that not the normal college student or average joe seem to have. With convenience stores, super markets, and vending machines everywhere, they don’t necessarily have to have any of these things. And Japanese seem to like going out to eat and socializing more, where I would rather stay inside, save some money, and do things myself. It’s fun to experiment with food.
On top of that, Japan isn’t as big into thrift shopping as the U.S. I’m not saying that they don’t exist, but generally it’s more common to buy things new or get a hand-me-down. I understand though, it’s not like they can take with them tables and furnitures they purchased from a thrift shop home with them in the train. But if Amazon hikes up their pricing, I think most Americans would just drive to goodwill to find whatever they want.
So what is the take-away from all this. For one, you should really check various sites and sources before committing to slapping your money on the table for something. The second one is, if I learned anything at all, I would prepare a list of things that are cheaper in my home country than that in Japan. From that I can pack my things better so that I will only have the necessities and the things that I will need in Japan.