Pure Love Renaissance : The Budget Otaku

For all the splashing about of loot on the pages of Heisei Democracy, there’s an incredible amount of effort that goes into maintaining an otaku lifestyle. PVC figurines and PS2 games don’t grow on trees, you know. Today Pure Love Renaissance explains how Japan is rife with ways of stretching your otaku dollar further.

The HikkiBox : A Fortress of Solitude
No matter where you live in Japan, there’s a cheaper option. If you’re an otaku chances are you still live with your parents. A 35 year old otaku? Even bigger chance. Perfect – you don’t have to worry too much about any of the following information as your parents put a roof over your head and will generally ensure you have some kind of nutritional eats. If you have had to move away from your family for work or study then you have some good options. Japan is designed to house people in the smallest space possible – the concept of public social spaces is quite advanced here. Places are defined by the activities they permit. Home is where you eat, sleep & watch TV, coffee shops, game centres & izakaya (Japanese pubs) are where you socialise and love hotels are where you–well you’re an otaku so that doesn’t concern you.

Consequently, for the single person in Japan literally only one room is required and there are plenty to choose from. In the northern wastes of Japan, a one-room the size of a small single car garage with bathroom & kitchen will set you back 30 – 50 000 per month. In Tokyo of course, the cost is higher – perhaps 90 – 150 000 depending on location. Chains such as LeoPalace or minimini own thousands of apartment blocks with tonnes of identical hikkimori-type boxes for a flat monthly rate including internet, some utilities, etc all over Japan: a cheaper simpler option in some cases. Just ensure you keep the endless loop of Pururun! down or your neighbour might kick your door in.

Food : A Diet Of Subsistence
Japan is full of delicious, nutritious food. Not that your skinny/flabby pasty indoor pallour bothers you in the slightest, so you’re not about to drop heavy yen on that expensive green stuff. Convenience stores offer convenient (surprise) ready made meals for about 3 – 400 yen. The infamous hyakuen-ya or 100 yen shop will provide you with a variety of instant ramen & rice stylings for 105 yen a serve, and for those special nights when you realise it’s 3.30am and you’ve been playing Air for 2 straight days you can hit up Yoshinoya for a pork-rice bowl for a paltry 380 yen. You only need to eat once a day, right?

Stuff : How To Get Value For Your Otaku Cash
Yes we all know about how great it is to get your hands on something first release, but the wise Otaku chooses their battles carefully – Do I really need to get this DVD straight out of the gate or can I wait? Second hand stores in Akihabara alone are crawling with discount mega-bargains – the author picked up all 9 discs of Love Hina in the set box for a mere 14 000 yen at Traders’ in Akihabara. To give you an idea of the kind of prices you can find, check out the online presence of another favourite for used media & games, Liberty.

For the thousands of otaku who don’t live within a comfortable train ride of Akiba, stores such as BookOff or Geo offer used manga, DVDs, CDs and games. Manga can cost as little as 105 yen a volume. Local stores also abound – a personal favourite of mine discounts new games a month after release and has a sizable selection to choose from across all consoles. Often a week after release you’ll find new games in the 2nd hand section where some maniac has conquered the game and lost interest. Most 2nd hand stores also buy your old materials, so you can put those old Dreamcast ports of Kanon and Tokimeki to good use and use them to fund your purchase of KimiKiss.

Evetnts : How To Con Cheaply
Comiket is in Tokyo – Tokyo Game Show is in Tokyo – WonderFest is in Tokyo. Unarguably one of the most expensive cities in the world. How to do it on the cheap? Conbini living for food, spend the night in an internet cafe (and fork out the 600 yen for a shower in the morning), but how to get yourself there and back? Shinkansen (bullet train) is quick but expensive, costing up to 30 000 yen if you’re coming from the furtherest reaches. Thank God for the Seishun 18 Ticket (青春18きっぷ). For 2300 yen per day you can have unlimited travel on any JR Train (barring limited expresses & shinkansen) which would be more than enough for any intrepid otaku voyager to bear. The author and friends rode 7 hours in style on 2 trains to Tokyo saving over 8 000 yen each (compared to the shinkansen) for Comiket 70.

Hopefully these ideas have inspired you as to the potentiality for Otaku superstardom available to those on the income of an exchange student, eikaiwa teacher or columnist for a popular Japanese 2d culture themed weblog.

Shipon lives in Northern Japan in relative poverty, with barely enough money to power his PS2. He reads manga by streetlight.

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0 Responses to Pure Love Renaissance : The Budget Otaku

  1. Sydney2K September 6, 2006 at 8:45 pm #

    You forgot the lack of Japanese language skills. Ordinarily you can’t buy without some basic ability to speak the local lingo, so to speak. How about this: when you have to pay, check the price tag or cash register display (for multiple items), and fork over the right amount of money, collecting the change. If at a fast food restaurant point at the item you want. No exchange of conversation is necessary.

  2. Shipon September 6, 2006 at 10:40 pm #

    Sydney2K>>
    I would assume if you were taking out a lease on a concrete shoebox and living in Japan you would have some modicum of Japanese ability.

  3. Sydney2K September 7, 2006 at 12:23 pm #

    I actually know someone who flew to Japan without a skerrick of Japanese and proceeded to live in Japan, finding a place to stay and everything. I think though she actually shared with someone so that’s not quite the same as doing it by one’self.
    But having said that I do know that in Ikekuburo there is an English language expat office where one can find accommodation and jobs, etc., so if you knew where that was that might alleviate the accommodation problems somewhat.
    Also, if you got a job as an English teacher, with most of your immediate requirements looked after by the company, that might help to.
    Of course this is all hearsay, and I haven’t actually experienced this firsthand.

  4. SDS September 7, 2006 at 10:02 pm #

    While living in Japan, my chosen method of saving money was a semi-rigorous diet of rice and nattou.
    Admittedly, it’s not for everyone but it gives you a far more nutritious and equally cheap alternative to vacuum-sealed curry and ramen from a 100-yen store.

  5. F. Lobster September 8, 2006 at 5:17 am #

    learn to love pasta.

  6. Garry September 8, 2006 at 11:00 am #

    A friend of mine from my early college days did a year’s study in Japan. He took about ten grand with him, spent $8000 in Akiba over the course of a weekend and took the Shinkansen to his college town.
    He subsisted entirely off rice for a year, staving off scurvy by shoplifting bags of dried veggies.

  7. Wakaba September 25, 2006 at 11:07 pm #

    Can’t believe you never mentioned the classic, tride and true for fifty years, Mormon missionary approved cheapest possible eat in Tokyo: the cut-off ends and crusts of bread (mimi-pan) which you can buy at bakeries, usually for 100 yen for a bag the size of a whole bread loaf (or that was the price when I was there some years back). Slop curry roux onto them and you’re good to go. Add mung bean sprouts if you absolutely must have roughage.

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