Posts Tagged ‘Osaka’

Is Japan Expensive? Part 1: Travel

Comments Off
Posted 11 Jun 2008 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Is Japan Expensive?, Only in Japan, Osaka, Tokyo, Travel, UK

Is the UK more expensive than Japan these days? Over the next few posts I’ll be exploring just how much things cost in both countries. Let’s start with travel:

Travel by car:

First off, we’ll need to buy a car to get around in. I’ve chosen two examples here: the VW Golf R32, which is a beast of a machine; and a Honda Civic, which is your general pootling-about vehicle.

Japanese road tax varies from ¥10-50,000 (approx. £50-250) depending on engine size; in the UK road tax can be anything from £35 to £400. Our sample cars would probably fall into the higher and medium-range tax brackets, respectively:

Golf R32 (Same model in both countries – 3-door MT)

  • UK price: £24,950
  • JP price: £19,610 (¥4,114,286)

Honda Civic (Japan – 1.8G, 5-door MT; UK – Civic 1.4S, 3-door MT. Both were the cheapest possible models I could find)

  • JP price: £9,231 (¥1,937,250)
  • UK price: £13,410

So for a simple purchase, Japan wins on both counts. Of course, Japan’s motorways are tolled, whereas the UK is – with one or two exceptions – free, which is something to take into account when thinking about travelling long distances. And there’s the added cost of a parking space, which would probably cost somewhere in the region of ¥30,000 (approx. £150) per month around west Tokyo.

Fuel prices are easy to compare. I’ve chosen a representative suburb of London and Tokyo from which to work on: Southgate in North London and Kichijoji in west Tokyo. Both are around the same distance from the political and financial centres of their respective cities:

Petrol (regular unleaded, per litre):

  • UK price: £1.13
  • JP price: £0.83 (¥164)

Blimey, that’s quite a huge difference!


First off, I should point out that most (95%+) Japanese companies pay for the cost of their employees’ commute to work, which is usually by train. This may happen with some companies in the UK, but is far less common.

For our sample journey, I’m again going to use Southgate (London) and Kichijoji (Tokyo) as our representative suburbs. I’ve picked Southgate to Westminster and Kichijoji to Ichigaya as our routes. Both take approximately the same length of time and cover the same distance, travelling from the outer suburbs to the centre of their respective cities. Let’s start with a monthly rail pass:

  • UK price: £132.90 – Southgate to Westminster, Zones 1-4
  • JP price £42.01 (¥8,890) – Kichijoji to Ichigaya

The big difference with both of these passes, apart from the huge gulf in price, is that with a pass in London you would be able to travel anywhere within Zones 1-4. With the Tokyo pass you would be able to travel anywhere between Kichijoji and Ichigaya for free, provided you use the same train line (in this case the JR Chuo-Sobu line). That’s good if you want to travel to, say, Shinjuku, but for the other “centres” of Tokyo you’d have to pay a little bit extra each time.

To make it a bit fairer, let’s compare the price of a one-way journey along the same routes:

  • UK price: £2.50 – Southgate to Westminster
  • JP price: £1.38 (¥290) – Kichijoji to Ichigaya

Tokyo still comes out on top, but the price difference isn’t quite as enormous.

Long-distance rail travel:

Japan is famous for their shinkansen (bullet trains), so I couldn’t write a post about travel without mentioning them at some point, could I? I’ve personally never had that much trouble with high-speed trains in the UK, but I’m sure there are millions who have, and who would be more than happy to recount their horror stories.

For high-speed trains, I’ve chosen London-Newcastle (270 miles) for the UK, and Tokyo-Osaka (343 miles) for Japan. Despite the extra 130 miles covered by our Japanese train it still manages to reach its destination more than 20 minutes ahead of its British counterpart (2hrs 36mins for Tokyo-Osaka and 2hrs 59mins for London-Newcastle).

Pricing is a bit different for both countries. In the UK it’s possible to get hugely discounted high-speed train tickets provided you book well in advance; in Japan shinkansen tickets are – in general – the same no matter how far in advance you book. To make it fair, I’ve compared the price for an open-single ticket for both (travel at any time of the day, on any train):

  • UK price: £124.50 – London King’s Cross to Newcastle, standard open single ticket
  • JP price: £66.07 (¥13,850) – Tokyo to Shin Osaka, reserved seat

The shinkansen looks much cheaper here, but bearing in mind the booking-in-advance rule in the UK, it really isn’t: I could get a return ticket from London to Newcastle for £66 provided I sorted it out a week or two in advance.

That’s all for this post. Look out for “Part 2: Household Goods”, where I’ll be comparing the price of TVs, sofas and other assorted gubbins!

(Prices based on 11th June 2008 exchange rates: 1GBP = 209.55JPY)

Business hotels

Comments Off
Posted 07 Oct 2007 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Osaka, Photography, Travel

For the busy salaryman, business hotels are a home-away-from-home. I had to spend the night in Osaka on Tuesday night for work, which provided me with an opportunity to experience one first-hand:

‘Cosy’ bedroom:

'Cosy' bedroom

‘Compact’ bathroom:

'Compact' bathroom

‘Stunning’ city views:

'Stunning' city view

Company entrance ceremonies and hanami

Posted 02 Apr 2007 — by Andy in Tokyo
Category Events, Personal, Photography, Tokyo, Work

æ�°å�¥ç¤¾å�¡ If there’s one thing the Japanese love, it’s ceremonies, and as Japan’s new financial and school year begins on the 1st of April, entrance ceremonies for new recruits were held in companies all across the country this morning. For me (and the three hundred other people in our office), this meant getting to work an hour earlier than usual, and watching the whole thing live via video-link from our company’s headquarters in Osaka.

Now, I’m sure for all those fresh-out-of-uni types this must have been a heart warming day to remember. But… I really cannot fathom why we had to watch it. I mean, they wouldn’t know whether we were watching it or not… but weird things like this happen all the time and you get used to it after a while. Radio taiso – that’s the morning exercise routines – freaked me out for the first few days of work. I thought that had all gone out of fashion years ago, but no, a fair percentage of our staff still go through the whole routine of bouncing around to bizarre nursery-rhyme music for five minutes. I tried it once, and felt like a complete tool. Needless to say I didn’t try it again.

The People Magnet In other news, the cherry blossom has already… well… blossomed here in Tokyo. We went to the park yesterday to check it out, and it appeared the entire population of west Tokyo had decided to exactly the same thing. It was ridiculous, you literally couldn’t move for groups of shit-faced students singing and old fogies taking photographs with enormous cameras. The weather was fantastic also (above 20 degrees Celsius), which only helped increase the crowds by a further twenty percent. We sacked the whole thing off and went shopping after about fifteen minutes.

My word… I really shouldn’t write on here after working eleven hour days ever again, it’s far too depressing…