How to Bank Mad Cash in Japan – Director’s Commentary

How to Bank Mad Cash in Japan from Daniel Morales on Vimeo.

00:26 Johnny Cash’s “Busted” from At Folsom Prison. Great song. Wish they had it at karaoke in Japan.

00:35 This is the Ginza on a Sunday. They close the road during spring, summer and fall…I think as long as the weather is decent. There are even cafes that open up with tables and chairs in the middle of the street.

00:44 My roommates commented that this actually isn’t that expensive. I think people in Japan routinely spend upwards of 10,000 yen on their cell phone bill. I don’t use it to talk all that much, so it stays relatively cheap. I still miss the days of free nights and weekends.

00:49 Okay, I cheated here kind of. This is gourmet fruit from Queen’s Isetan in Shinagawa, so it’s pricey. Normal apples are closer to 100 yen.

00:52 Beer, however, is expensive. Part of it is due to the taxes, which are much higher than in Europe or the U.S., but part of it is also due to the high quality of the beer itself. Your regular 100% barley malt beer offering from the big four breweries is, I’d argue, higher quality than the basic beer from American breweries. I know that Budweiser doesn’t have anything on Premium Malts. That’s for sure.

00:55 This cheese is outrageous. I have narrowed down the best cheese in Tokyo. Go to Seijo Ishii and look for the wedges of cheddar or mozzarella that are 299 yen. Arguably it’s the best value in the whole store.

01:00 On Sundays this same natto is only 68 yen. If you can bear the stink, natto is a great way to supplement a bento.

01:05 “Lacrimosa” from Mozart’s Requiem.

I ate all three of these natto containers in about 15 minutes. I wanted to use all of the footage, but it was too long even after I sped it up to 700%.

01:17 I rarely ate natto until the principal at the junior high school where I worked commented that it was called “the samurai meat” in Japan. Samurai apparently used to roll cooked beans in bamboo leaves, put them in their pocket, and then run off to battle. Whenever they got hungry (sometimes weeks later), they’d pull out the beans (rotten by then) and dig in. I thought that was awesome. Then another teacher mentioned how cheap they were. This I also thought was awesome. So now I eat them quite frequently. Probably a three-pack a week or so?

02:01 Spinal Tap’s “Gimme Some Money.”

I still think this relative change section is genius. Check out my writeup in the original post. Basically, I argue that psychologically we are more likely to spend change too freely, and that kills you in Japan because you end up throwing around the equivalent of 1 and 5 dollar bills.

Think about this. When the exchange rate was down at 86 yen/dollar a couple weeks back, two 10 yen coins were basically equivalent to one quarter. But doesn’t a quarter feel more expensive? That’s because it’s the coin of highest value.

That reminds me. These numbers would be even less now because the dollar is so low. It would probably be like 9 or 8 yen average for each coin in the U.S. Worthless!

02:35 I don’t know the specifics in Europe, but apparently not all of these are used commonly.

02:39 I love the Aussie 2 dollar coin.

02:59 Allen Toussaint’s “Viva la Money.”

It really is tempting to buy drinks in Japan. One of my friends returning to Scotland after the JET Program was seriously concerned that he might suffer terrible dehydration post-repatriation.

03:12 My bag o change. Currently filling it (not so strictly as before) with the intention of taking the money with me on a trip to Europe next year. Very exciting.

I got a stern talking to from the bank lady because I left a few U.S. coins in with the yen. Won’t make that mistake again.

03:17 Thank you Internet for providing the random sounds used in this section of the video! (Yes, that is the Mario coin noise.)

I think the total amount ended up being closer to 160,000 yen because I had been taking bags of 500 yen coins with me to use for my daily expenses. All the cool guys pay for stuff with dirty Ziploc bags full of coins, right? Most of it I was able to change at the bank.

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