Here’s an interesting survey from goo Ranking, looking at what people think that compared to overseas is far too expensive in Japan.
Over the 23rd and 24th of August 2010 1,127 members of the goo Research online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 57.3% of the sample were female, 11.7% in their teens, 16.5% in their twenties, 29.0% in their thirties, 23.2% in their forties, 10.9% in their fifties, and 8.7% aged sixty or older. Note that the score in the results refers to the relative number of votes for each option, not a percentage of the total sample.
With the recent appreciation in the yen, prices have got a bit closer, but looking at the list, number 1 is fair enough for city property, although land in the countryside is often ridiculously cheap. Homes are perhaps comparable in price, but certainly not comparable in terms of floor space or build quality! Pizzas are stupidly expensive, but I’m not really sure about US university fees, although compared to many places in Europe they are, as further education costs are heavily regulated or even non-existent. An hour on Japanese motorways costs about the same as a week-long or more carte for German, Swiss or Austrian motorways, but petrol is similar in price to Europe. Movies are expensive, although the concessions are cheaper and more importantly there’s no-one talking on phones, shining laser pointers or otherwise disrupting movies in Japan. My monthly minutes (30 minutes) for my mobile is about the same price as a plan with 500 minutes or more in the UK, and it costs me close to 100 yen to load just the specially-designed Japanese mobile-friendly home page on Twitter! Foreign brands are heavily marked-up, but personal tax (income and sales tax) in Japan is low, although the national insurance component has been slowly creeping up as of late.
The others I disagree with are tropical fruits – all fruits are expensive, and alcohol. The average pint in the pub or carry-out can of mainstream beer is more expensive that the west, but there’s always the all-you-can-drink option, and in supermarkets the own-brands of firewater – chu-hai fruity alcopops, gut-rot whisky and the two litre sake bottles – have a pretty good price/performance ratio.
Oh, and everyone seems to have forgotton rice, which is kept expensive by the government to keep small farmers farming.
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