Your Life in Japan - Budgeting and Whatnot

Last Update: June 2017

Coming to Japan, the first thing I wanted to do was to be able to connect to the internet when I wasn't at home or in the office. It just helps a lot with commuting and keeping in touch with friends and family. But sadly, getting a mobile phone subscription for a foreigner can be quite difficult and it was difficult to research or even make my way around...

The first month I was here, I had bought a secondhanded iPod from Akihabara for about 20,000 yen. That is already almost all the money I had brought back from my country. XD But at that point, nothing was more important to me than being connected. A few months later, I don’t even use it and it’s somewhere stored in the depths of my closet… That was not money well spent!

So, in this post, I will talk about the basic expenses if you were to live independently in Japan. It might help you put your money where it's supposed to go. It is not cheap to live here.

Please note that the rates I will be talking about are in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa. It’s bound to be more expensive if you choose to stay in big cities like Tokyo or Yokohama and cheaper if you live somewhere more rural. 😊

Me at the Shibuya Crossing!
 
1.      Apartment
A forewarning: It is so difficult for a foreigner to rent an apartment without a guarantor. Many flats will also turn you down because you are a foreigner even if you do have a guarantor… So, you are lucky if you company will provide you with lodging!
If that is not the case, I recommend share houses for your first few weeks. The lowest I’ve found is around 30,000 a month. Usually though they would more be upwards 40,000 yen. But there would sometimes be share houses that would offer the first month free. So, if you stay a couple of months, that means you only pay half!
The good thing about share houses is that the utilities are usually free. There’s internet, water, gas, and light in the price.
If you choose to live in an apartment, in my area the cheapest I found was 18,000-20,000 yen for a studio type room. But then the fees come in and it wouldn’t really seem so cheap…
(Do not ask me where, do your own research).

2.      Utilities
Just rough estimates here.
Internet – 3,500
Water – 4,000
Gas – 6,000
Electricity – 6,000

How much was that already? But then eventually you would want a mobile phone. 

3.      Mobile Phone
If you’re getting a smartphone this will cost you an upwards of 6000 yen a month. Not easy to get! Welcome to being a foreigner in Japan.
(Please don’t ask me how I got my phone, do your own research).

Quick tip: Many AU shops have Filipino-speaking staff. How about you start there?

4.      Food
Are you good at saving? I hope you are! Eating out on what people consider fastfood here will cost you 350yen quickly. We’re talking Yoshinoya here. Wanna eat sushi? One plate is 108 yen. It would take me around 5 plates to be full… So that’s 540 yen!

Convenience store food is also very expensive. A yummy spaghetti from 7/11 would be nearly 500 yen.

One piece of bread is easily 108 yen as well. One piece of carrot is about the same price.

If you’re doing groceries, 5kg of rice is about 1,300 yen. 

Are you converting that to pesos, guys?!

Quick tip: Go curry! Many JP grocery stores will offer a curry set for 300 yen-ish. The curry rue will be about 200 yen. So that’s 500 yen, but it will last you a good three days. 😝

5.      Clothes
Change of season equals change of clothes. A plain t-shirt would cost you 1,000 yen easily. Anything non-basic and you're looking more at 3,000 yen or much more... Secondhand shops are your friend.

In the photo above, my bag and top are second-handed from Book Off! They have many branches in Japan. :)

Well I think this should get you started. You know what to expect, so plan your budget accordingly. OH! Also, you will not be paid until the next month or two. Some companies wait a full month to credit the last month’s salary. So yeah, welcome to Japan!!!

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Sylvanian Families Interior Shop

Today, we are taking a look at the Sylvanian Families Interior Shop (シルバニアファミリー インテリアショップ). Originally released in 2001, the shop is pretty difficult to get in Japan, and would sell for about 5 times its original price(as of June 2017)--and even for more abroad. Last time I checked on eBay it was a whooping $239.99...

Anyway, this item isn't really a recent addition to my collection, but it is the first time I will ever be opening it-- and I want to share it with you!


Shops like this are always difficult to find complete because of the many small parts. Luckily, I found myself one brand new in box! Well, it will not be brand new for long, as I always unbox all my toys. XD

Here are the contents of the set! You can see there are many. many things that could easily go missing!

The contents.



My absolute favorite are the tea cup saucers. In the photo above it's the tiny blue plate. It looks so very delicate in person. I love tiny detailing and the gold trimming around the saucer is quite beautiful! 

I unwrapped all of the items! Time to attach the stickers! Let's also hope I don't lose anything! XD

With the help of tweezers, I'm able to satisfactorily attach all of the stickers! Wow! Everything looks really pretty.

I decided to put my interior shop in a spare cottage I bought some time ago. Originally, the cottage was a Flower Shop. I think in the near future, I will wallpaper the place to bring it to life!

The entire contents fit in snugly. You'd almost think it was meant to be here! :O

My interior shop will be run by interior designer, Roxy Renard. She is still currently on her way to my village, so she hasn't had the pleasure to check out her new shop. 

Details, details, details! It was one of the things that attracted me to the Sylvnian Families line and the Interior Shop does not disappoint. It is one very unique set and I do recommend collectors to find one for themselves.

Do you have the interior shop in your collection? Do you want to have it in your collection?

See you again next time!

Xoxo,
Jona

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Sylvanian Families Betty's Toy Box

Hi! We will be looking at the second of the three cottage-type toy shops in the Sylvanian Families/Calico Critters line; Betty's Toy Box.

It was first released in the U.K. in January 2011. And unlike Hazelwood's Toy Shop, it only came with one figure; Betty Hazelwood.

Betty's Toy Box commercial packaging.
It was supposedly only available for sale at Tesco.

Sylvanian Families Betty's Toy Box contents
I did get this building brand new so I had all the correct bits and pieces. The display shelf is red instead of blue!

Sylvanian Families Betty's Toy Box contents
I forgot to take a reference picture of the contents--but these are all that's in there. The contents are very similar to the original release.

Sylvanian Families Betty Hazelwood front
Betty Hazelwood dons the same dress she does in Hazelwood's Toy Shop.

Sylvanian Families Betty Hazelwood front
I love the detail of the ribbon above her tail.

Sylvanian Families Betty's Toy Box front
The building's color scheme is different form the first one. Instead of blue on white, this building dons cream-colored walls and green windows.

Sylvanian Families Betty's Toy Box side
On one side of the building, there's a window that can be opened or closed.

Sylvanian Families Betty's Toy Box back
The back.

Sylvanian Families Betty's Toy Box
I tried to arrange all  the contents to reflect the promo image exactly.
I can't really choose which one is my favorite between the two releases. It's a bid sad that Oliver Bearbury isn't included in the box, but the two releases are generally similar except for a few minor changes.

I guess that's it for now. The last version of this toy shop I'll be opening is from the Calico Critter's line. Very exciting! See you again soon!(*^^*)

xoxo,
Jona

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Sylvanian Families Brick Oven Bakery

The Brick Oven Bakery was the first shop I bought after I got my very first Sylvanian Families house, the City House with Lights. Convincing myself in my first few days into the hobby that I will only really need one house and one shop, I chose this bakery.

The bakery became first available in Japan on April 2, 2015. The Toys R Us Japan gift set version later became available about 4 months later on August 8, 2015.

I bought the Toys R Us version myself.

Official promotional picture.

The giftset version includes two dolls except for Eleanor Bramble: Freya and Saffron. They wear  matching dresses. Also included are an outdoor table and chairs set with a couple of magazines, a lamp-post, and a variation of the cobblestone slab available for sale at the Japanese Premium Club Shop.

I thought these were really great additions! It was also a point in time when I only had the Buckleys residing in my village and a few more residents were badly needed. ; 3 ;

There is also another Toys R Us Version of this building released elsewhere.
Instead of Saffron, we get sister Abigail in a very cute dress. Freya is also included in a different dress. The table and chairs included are the re-color of the ornate garden table and chairs. The lamp post is also maroon red instead of the green one we receive in the JP release.

I'm so glad Eleanor decided to open up her business in my town!

Now let's take a close look at the bakery.

Cream walls and an orange roof to match the red brick oven. 

On one side is a large display window.

The shelves on the sides of the building can not be rearranged.

On the other side are pictures of some of the bread available for sale in-store.

I added a few extra bread and accessories in my shop.

But the amount of baked goodies included in the  set is enough to fill the shelves.


Uhhh. YUM!

Saffron is having a hard time deciding which is better--the turtle bread or the fish bread??

Freya, on the other hand is ready to check out!

Eleanor's lovely smile, aside from the wonderful baked goods she makes, will surely keep customers coming back.


It's a lovely building! I love the use of warm colors and the detail in every bread in the set. Plus I really enjoy setting this one up every time since the amount of items included isn't too overwhelming! XD

Do you have this building in your village?

xoxo,
Jona

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Sylvanian Families Hazelwood Toy Shop

Hello! Today we will be taking a look at the Hazelwood Toy Shop. I believe this is the first toy shop in the UK, released in 2004.

It has recently been quite difficult to find but I managed to score one!



The Hazelwood Toy Shop is one of three cottage-type toy shops in the Sylvanian Families/Calico Critters line. A couple of months back, a dear friend of mine helped me all three by sending me the Calico Critters version called the Main Street Toy Shop (Thank you, Terra!). So I will be posting about the three buildings in separate blog posts. ^^

Don't they look lovely together?



The set I got was missing but one piece--the toy box. The seller compensated by adding a first-aid kit box (not sure if this is Sylvanian) and a mini-blackboard.

Contents reference.

Everything is in lovely condition.

The building itself is white with blue windows. I do love these tiny cottage shops!

I tried to arrange the items as similarly as in the photograph as possible. You will notice an extra book is in the sample photograph. It is not in the items list, though. :O

Oliver Bearbury and Betty Hazelwood. They look glad to be out of the box!

Cottage-type shops are one of my favorites as they are smaller and ideal for collectors who don't have much space to spare. They don't come with a lot of items, however. But that just gives you a chance to get creative!

In my next blog posts, we'll be looking at the two other toy shops! See you then! ^^

xoxo,
Jona

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Getting Ready for a Rabbit?




Image lifted from boredpanda.com, if you own this photo please send me a message so I can properly credit you!
Image lifted from boredpanda.com, if you own this photo please send me a message so I can properly credit you!

So adorable, isn't it? Now that Easter is coming, many kids will ask for a pet rabbit, and many adults will indulge.

But, a rabbit is not a "starter" pet or a "cheap" pet to keep, as a lot of pet shops would tell you. They are a big responsibility, just like a dog or a cat. As a responsible pet-owner, it is YOUR JOB to know more about them before getting one!


I am by no means a bunny expert. But, I've had my fair share of handling rabbits and have studied about them enough for me to be able to share my knowledge.

For this post, we are going to look at some Bunny Supplies Essentials! ^^

 I'm going to do this by showing you my Amazon cart so you will also have an idea of how much it actually takes to start caring for a rabbit. Be forewarned, it is not cheap!

Note that all prices are in JPY as it's where I currently live in. (price conversion in Php are done via xe.com)

*Please note that this is not in the order of importance.

Without the cage, the bill has reached JPY 16,447. (7,368.16PHP)

Non-essentials in the list above would be the raisins (which I would use as a treat and for training), the carry case and the bottle I'll attach to the carry case (for taking your rabbit home and to the vet!), the hidey house, the scratching mat, the wooden chew, the fleece and the rabbit pet sheet (instead of using bedding I will use this).

Without those you will still need: 6385 JPY (
2,860.99PHP).

Essentials:
CAGE/enclosure
1. Rabbit food pellet
2. Hay
3. Water/food dish
 
Optional but recommended:
4.  Litter tray. Starting training from the get-go is the best!
5. Wood chews. Rabbit teeth are growing constantly, without anything to chew on, their teeth will become too long and pose health problems.
6. Fleece. If you are getting a wire-bottom cage, your rabbit needs a place to rest their feet, if you are getting a plastic bottom base, you rabbit needs the traction so they can move comfortably. Either way, getting fleece for your rabbit is a good idea. ^^

Now moving on to the cage. Many people misunderstand that rabbits only need a small space to live a comfortable life. This is just not true.

Many store-bought cages are unfit for a rabbit, no matter what the "experts" at the shop say. 

This diagram shows the MINIMUM space required for a rabbit.

You can easily see how a Google search for rabbit cages will yield misinformed results.

I've left some cages unmarked because I don't know the exact size. On the otherhand, a lot of the cages in the result has a bunny for reference and by that I can say that it is NOT a good size.

I marked hutches as "not recommended" as it is safer for rabbits to be indoors than out.

For a list of acceptable store-bought rabbit cages, please go here:
http://www.therabbithouse.com/indoor/rabbitcages.asp

From Amazon, the biggest rabbit cage available in Japan is the Ferplast Casita 120. I would prefer not to go less than 150cm in length, but this is the best one we have here. I am buying this cage for my rabbit. But NOTE that my rabbit will be outside of the cage 100% of the time when I'm able to supervise it.

The cage is an expensive 19,000JPY (8,538.59PHP)! This is why a NIC cage is the best option, really. If and when I find NIC cubes in Japan, I will immediately switch!

 

XL dog crates are also good rabbit cages!  But even an XXL crate will only be 0.75sqm, which is below the recommended minimum space. You can, however, make a second level on a crate to make additional space. ^^ On Amazon, this crate is 7,900JPY (3,549.76PHP).

MY total bill: 35,447 JPY =15,931.74PHP

So as you can see, getting a rabbit is not cheap.  This cost does not even include the cost of the rabbit itself. If you are getting (and you should be) from a reputable breeder, a rabbit isn't that cheap either!

Rabbits in pet stores in the USA would cost around $20. In the Philippines, you can get one for as cheap as Php50. Yes, $1. In Japan it's more like Jpy20,000. Moreover petshop rabbits are more often than not too young to be sold! Any bunny under 8 weeks old should not be taken away from its mother. Getting from a reputable breeder would make the price range a little more steep. In the USA, you would get it at around $75 or more (for pet types), in the Philippines for more than a few thousand pesos, and in Japan for at least Jpy40,000.

Moreover, a rabbit is a long-term commitment. Their lifespan can extend to up to 7-12 years. So unless, you are ready to care for another life for that long, please consider another pet instead. ^^
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((I have previously written a similar post here. But there are a couple of changes I've made and my knowledge about rabbits has grown since then.))

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