My Last 10,000 Yen: Train Fare, Chocolate, and a Haircut

When I moved to Tokyo a few years ago, the yen and the penny were about even—that is, about 100 yen to the dollar. Since then, the dollar has taken a massive dump and today it’s about 79 yen to the dollar.

Tuesday
• ¥1,320 (¥660×2) on roundtrip train fare to work. If this were a real job, the transportation would probably be paid since that is the norm in Japan, but this job is temp so I have to eat the transportation cost.
• ¥340 at lunch for a latte. I brought my lunch, but hadn’t had any coffee yet so hit the coffee shop nearest the office.
• ¥210 Almonds covered with oat-crunch chocolate from the convenience store (conbini in J-speak); I’m doing overtime today, and overtime deserves chocolate.
• ¥856 on a few groceries so I can pack a lunch for tomorrow. I go to the fancy grocery on the way home because it’s late and the cheap one is already closed. 

Wednesday
• ¥1,320 Roundtrip train fare for another day at the same temp job. You can buy train passes to save money, but they have to be for a certain route, so are only useful if you are traveling to the same place several times a week for a month.
• ¥1,200 Even though I brought a sandwich, I get peer pressured into lunch with some of the other temps. ¥1,200 gets me a salad, a pizza, and a coffee. We don’t tip in Japan.
• ¥128 Overtime deserves chocolate. This time I get the DARS mint chocolate and share it in the break room. I’m not usually such a chocolate fiend, but something about being stuck in an office sitting at a desk for ten hours makes me want to break up the monotony with something intense. I eat it with my lunch sandwich for dinner. (This is the last day of this temp job—making ¥2,300 an hour to check English exams, and 125 percent of that for overtime past eight hours.)

Thursday
• ¥980 Round trip fare to Shinjuku to have a language check interview for another temp job. Rush hour sucks. I head back home to hang out with the dogs.
• ¥1,160 Round trip fare to another part of Tokyo for another quickie job, this time doing voice recording for a navigation system (¥7,000 for a couple of hours). I could have stayed downtown and saved part of the train fare, but I know I would’ve spent more than I saved trying to kill eight hours.

Friday
• ¥1,890+¥260 Haircut and round trip train fare to a local station. I got a second interview after my language check, and my hair’s atrocious. Decent salons are everywhere in Tokyo, and this is a step up from the Supercuts-type places, which charge about ¥1,000. Again, we don’t tip.
• ¥1,500 for dinner and a drink at a bar where my friend’s band is playing.

Total: ¥11,164 over four days, almost half of which was spent on train fare. I love the transportation system here, it’s one of the best in the world, but yikes. If I do manage to get a steady job, I’ll be investing in the commuter pass.

 

Selena Hoy temps in Tokyo.

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14 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

Oh man, so jealous of the cheap but good haircuts. Also you can eat really well for very little money (at least when I was there). PLus no tips and better service, because good service is expected, rather than the other way around.

selenana (#673)

@Megano! It’s true, it’s nice living in a place where good service is expected. On the flip side though, people are more rule-bound and less likely to be flexible and compassionate. This means it’s really hard to get exceptions, or substitutions, or something off the menu. Especially in bigger joints!

Megano! (#124)

@selenana Oooh. I pretty much never do that anyway, but I could see how it would be annoying!

selenana (#673)

@Megano! Yeah, I’m vegetarian, so my exceptions are like, “no bacon, please.” You’d be surprised how hard that can be for some places to do.

Nice management for money! I definitely agree with having chocolate while break time. It’s cheap though but always gives me more energy and some good oppotunity for talking with coworkers. I’ll check the train passes you mentioned. I didn’t know that. Thank you!

I like your consistent rule — overtime deserves chocolate! I can’t argue with that.

If it had been me, I would have spent much more in the same span of time. I am not nearly as frugal as you are. More’s the pity.

selenana (#673)

@Blaine Hoy@facebook Ha! Thanks for coming over, guys!

If it had been me, I would’ve engorged myself with triple the chocolate during overtime, and might’ve keeled over.

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