How the Other 99.9% Live – Japan edition

June 25, 2009

This is Vince reporting from sunny and rainy Tokyo – weather is a little fickle at the moment. I’m on a vacation around Asia, and I’ve decided to do a segment on some lifestyle/financial observations on this trip. This first segment is devoted to…

Fruit prices in Japan.

Yes, fruit prices. First and foremost, prices are astronomically high. Additionally, it is very difficult to find fruit. Convenience stores, the most accessible food supply store in Japan – one in every three stores in Tokyo seems to be a convenience store (Lawson, Mini Mart, Family Mart, 7-11, Newsday…) – do not supply fresh fruit. Instead, they are replaced by jello encapsulated fruit and fruit drinks. However, if you were interested in consuming a fruit, you could go to a small corner market or a restaurant. Large grocery stores mostly don’t exist either, since space is at a premium.

Mango at a restaurant

Mango at a restaurant

So how much is a fruit at a restaurant? At a restaurant chain in Tokyo, about $5 for a third of a mango. Fruit prices at small stands aren’t much better…about $6 for four peaches, $1 for a banana, and $5 for an apple.

Maybe I’m shopping at all the wrong places, but so far I’ve yet to find a place that disproves the theory that fruit prices in Japan are high.

-Vince


Travel now, work later

April 27, 2009

A debate that often comes up within my circle is the use of vacation days. For the intrepid careerist, the thought of appearing lazy so early in their career is a sacrifice they are not willing to take. Or to others, the ability to pay out vacation time is even more enticing. If you’re the type of person that thinks that a weekend trip to Santa Barbara or Las Vegas is enough, then you are in an ideal situation where this advice doesn’t apply. But if a two week jaunt across the globe seems short, travel now before it’s too late!

For the past decade, people have become fixated on retirement. The idea was that people would invest wisely in their Roth IRAs and 401Ks, retire in their mid-40s, and spend the rest of their lives finally doing what they wanted to do.

Let’s look at this best case scenario. You’re in your latter years, fortunate to have enough money to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to see the Amazon River. But your significant other can’t leave their job for too long and your kids only have two weeks vacation for winter break. So you end up taking a two week package tour that stops by the river, and your dream is disappointingly realized when you look out the window of a luxury ferry while your kids eat cheeseburgers and drink shirley temples. Travel will only become more difficult as you become older and have more familial responsibilities or people you have to cater to.

Now for the second scenario. I went to a business lunch with some of my colleagues and we were discussing an executive who had gone on vacation. He was in his late 50s, and had not taken a vacation in over five years. He was taking ten vacation days to go to Europe, but even this was deemed a career risk. The reason? He was afraid that someone else would fill in to complete some of his tasks, and he would be viewed as expendable. You may be busy now, but assuming you climb the job ladder, your work will only become increasingly important.

Go to Japan and attend an entire Nihon Sumo Kyokai Grans Sumo tournament. Follow a leg of the European tour of one of your favorite bands. Complete the Tour de France with a group of friends in September. Train in Muay Thai kickboxing in Thailand. There isn’t a better time than now.

Cava di Isolla, a beach on Ischia

Cava di Isolla, a beach on Ischia