Posts Tagged ‘pulse rate’

Pulse Rate: ikyu.com

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Ikyu

While not exactly offering bargain basement prices, travel discounts can be found at Ikyu.com

In general there is a hesitancy in Japan to discount prices for goods and services. The price for a six pack of beer, for example, is same price as six individual beers. Landlords are wary to reduce rents even to fill up rooms that may be empty for a long period of time, and hotels rarely give price breaks – as reported by Yen For Living, even a drastic reduction in highway tolls did not increase overnight stays for travelers. The Internet, however, has at least helped consumers pinpoint the companies that have lowered their prices, which in turn has helped stimulate competition.

Recently the website 一休.COM (www.ikyu.com) made it to the No. 4 spot of  Goo keywords, perhaps because it was being inundated by visitors trying to take advantage of the site’s 10-year anniversary specials and other summer specials during the current summer vacation. While the site does provide discounted hotels, it’s not exactly targeted at budget travelers – some of the rooms go for as much as ¥33,000/night for two people. There is an English site to take advantage of (which even includes a frequently updated blog about Japan), but unfortunately it doesn’t appear to have the site’s full line of rooms, so using the Japanese side is recommended.

Budget travelers can look to Rakuten Travel for a larger selection of cheaper digs. Rakuten is also equipped with an English site, but if you can navigate the Japanese, you can take advantage of the full-featured search engine to narrow down housing by station, maximum price and distance from station. By searching strategically, you can find rooms at fantastic value. For example, a semi-double at City Hotel Hiroki at Kamata Station (a station that offers a decent amount of edible, drinkable and shop-able entertainment and isn’t far from central Tokyo on the Keihin-Tohoku Line) runs ¥5,400/night for two people this upcoming weekend. (If your name happens to be Hiroki, you can take advantage of the special discount rate of ¥5,000/night!)

Other websites are bringing down the price of goods. Kakaku.com has long offered significant discounts on a variety of different merchandise. For those looking to stay out of the sun while shopping for groceries, the bulk liquor store Kakuyasu has an impressive online presence that offers free delivery 365 days a year to Tokyo, Kanagawa and Osaka on any order, even if it’s as little as a single can of beer. Their prices are nothing to scoff at either – the Suntory Premium Malts costs a mere ¥220/can for a 24-pack, and Asahi Super Dry is ¥193/can. Although the bulk of the products are alcohol-related, there is a decent selection of snacks and basic foodstuffs. You can get your salsa and tortilla chip fix and, if you’ve got the moral and intestinal fortitude for it, try some whale curry.

Pulse Rate: ‘Free rent’ pricing aims to fill up empty apartments

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Summer heat doesn’t just slow down pedestrians in Japan – it also stifles the real estate industry. Most of this is due to the Japanese employment/academic calendar, which begins in April every year and ends the following March. Between February and April, students move closer to the schools where they will matriculate, and new company employees move out of the house and start life as a shakaijin (社会人, working adult).

As covered on the June 11 broadcast of “Gacchiri Academy,” a weekly info-variety program on TBS about saving money, once everyone gets settled, real estate agents have to scramble to fill the empty rooms. They can’t lower rents because that causes current tenants to complain and also reduces the value of the property. In the absolute worst cases, rooms that don’t find tenants by the end of April remain empty for a full calendar year. In response, some real estate agents have started offering “free rent” (フリーレント) deals on certain rooms.

No, “free rent” does not imply totally free, but it does mean that the first two months are free. Additionally, many of these have no “key money” payment to the landlord, which can be as much as two months rent, and no introduction fee to the agency. The only thing required is a month’s rent for deposit. The goal of the “free rent” discount is to get bodies into the room so that the landlord can stop taking losses.

Shortly after the broadcast, the term “free rent” skyrocketed to the top of the Google Trends keyword searches. Clearly, there is a near-constant hunt for bargain living spaces in Japan. Japan Pulse has previously covered the boom in room sharing. Yen for Living has also covered room sharing as well as discounts on rooms where people have died. Gacchiri Academy suggested that a little negotiation might be a previously unconsidered tactic – real estate agents and landlords might be willing to offer the free rent policy for rooms that were previously not discounted.

Pulse Rate: 社畜 (shachiku)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

This week we launch Pulse Rate, where we look at online cardiographs and measure the EKG of the Japanese internet via the keywords ranking high in the search-engine charts and elsewhere. Will they be only brief blips or signs of bigger things to come? Only time will tell.

社畜.COM. exploded to the top of Goo’s Keyword Rankings this week, debuting at No. 2 this past Sunday and topped only by actress Sei Ashina (lead actress in the soon-to-be-released movie version of the manga “Saru Lock”). The site is a Japanese internet meme based on the invented word shachiku (社畜). Shachiku is a combination of kaisha (会社, company) and kachiku (家畜, domestic animal/beast of burden) – in other words, “corporate cattle.”

syachiku graph

Some poor soul on the brink of becoming branded

The term was originally coined by “business novelist” Satoshi Azuchi, whose most well-known novel is “Supermarket,” a somewhat autobiographical story of managerial intrigue at a supermarket. Economic commentator Makoto Sataka took Azuchi’s term and popularized it in his columns for Japanese weekly Shuukan Kinyoubi. The shachiku site was an instant hit after its launch in June 2009 and widely covered in the Japanese blogosphere.

The site itself is a short quiz that determines “How much of a corporate drone have you become?  Site visitors have to answer 30 yes-no questions, such as “Do you have to do unpaid overtime?,” “Are you forced to go drinking after work?,” and “Does your boss give you a funny look when you ask to take paid leave?”

After answering the questions, users are given a graph that maps their drone-ness. I ended up with 42% drone-ness, which indicates that I am “in danger of becoming corporate cattle very shortly (そろそろ社畜化しそうです).” The site then offers links to books such as “Kotowaru Chikara” (断る力,” “The Power to Refuse”) and other self-help guides for those unable to change the inertia of their miserable situation.

Continue reading about shachiku →

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